Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Lance just another hero knocked off the pedestal

Post by Brian O'Neill on May 28, 2011 at 10:51 am with 6 Comments »
May 28, 2011 10:32 pm

If ignorance is bliss then the “60 Minutes” film studio must be the least blissful place on Earth.

Over the the last 44 years the iconic news show has uncovered more dirt than John Deere’s tractors, but in so doing it has scratched the luster of many well-known and respected individuals. Greg Mortenson recently got the treatment. He’s the author of “Three Cups of Tea” and the founder of the now-famous nonprofit that built girls schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Or maybe he didn’t, according to the show.

That was hard enough to take, but last week’s show was a shot across the bow for many of us who dared to believe in miracles. That particular show targeted Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, philanthropist, founder of the Livestrong cancer foundation, toast of Texas and inspiration to legions of fans worldwide. Me included.

What years of hearsay, scores of French journalists, and thousands of tests failed to prove–that Lance Armstrong used outlawed performance enhancement drugs and blood-doping to cheat in his sport–seemed a bitter fact at the conclusion of this incisive yet cursed episode. Tyler Hamilton’s first hand account, following a grand jury subpoena, had the solid ring of truth.

I was one of those who read Armstrong’s books, followed his career and scoffed at the idea that a champion such as he would stoop to doping. At each stage of his many races we would watch him receive his blood test results–negative , or so we were told–with a look of “I told you so” that he kept until he crossed the final finish line at the Champs-Elysees.

But if you listen closely to Lance’s many denials of doping, there were clues.

In response to a direct question on doping, he once responded that “We’ve passed thousands of tests.”

When asked about Floyd Landis’ assertion that Lance and his team doped, he replied “I like our credibility better than his.”

These are exactly the type of deceptive answers police investigators look for when interviewing criminal suspects. Since outright lying is really tough to pull off, providing answers that somehow avoid the negative, switch up the question, and can be answered truthfully can be delivered with conviction and even a hint of outrage.

Lance’s responses just don’t answer the questions, and in hindsight it seems like his answers were as well coached as his cycling. Perhaps he was just a natural at both.

Still there will be many of us who choose to look beyond this most human of failings to see the brilliance of Armstrong’s incredible successes. He has repeatedly chosen to downplay his many victories on the racing circuit while touting his success as a cancer survivor. He has taken comparatively few opportunities to cash in on his fame relative to the efforts he has made to advance his Livestrong foundation. Maybe over the course of time Lance’s success as a champion against cancer will eclipse his cycling successes.

That’s what I will cling to as I bid farewell to the heroic and miraculous string of victory’s in Armstrong’s fairytale cycling career.

In the meantime, Lance, this * is for you.


Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. click4mrh says:

    Here’s hoping you use better evidence to convict real perpetrators.

  2. Brian O'Neill says:

    I would invite you to view the 60 Minutes link where you will see one of his teammates, summoned by a grand jury, give up all the beans. Eye witness testimony is excellent evidence in any court.

  3. LibertyBell says:

    Yes, eyewitness testimony is excellent when you on dope in any court in Pierce County.

  4. One person vs. the rest of the team. Then there’s kids vs. the elderly.
    Certain groups get ‘more trusted’ in the legal system.

  5. slugoxyz says:

    Ahh Brian. I am normally a fan but in this case, you forget to mention that discrediting a key witness is as much a part of litigation as the key witnesses themselves. Why would Tyler lie? There are a hundred reasons. Why would Floyd lie? If you can’t see reason to lie there, you really aren’t looking for the truth but rather, a story you want to believe in. If Tyler was telling the truth and Lance took dope, how did all those tests come up negative? The blood and urine tests prove to be better evidence here than a person with an axe to grind or a book to sell. Tyler just wanted to be like his mentor but he couldn’t manage to stay on his bike. Crash prone and eventually dumped by Team Postal, Tyler would never win the TDF. Floyd? He was so desperate in the 2006 TDF that he doped the night before a race. Then, knowing full well a victory in that stage would guarantee a blood test, he won anyway. Humiliated, the yellow jersey was immediately stripped from him. The man that pulled Lance up a hundred mountain passes would never realize his dream – to be Lance. Floyd would later come back after his two year suspension and finish a woeful 23rd in the 2009 Tour of California with the appropriately named OUCH Pro Cycling Team and quit. Unable to return do you think that Floyd has an axe to grind?

    I suppose it is possible that Lance devised some way to fool all the drug tests. Maybe he used a chemical that no one tested for or was not yet illegal? Pure supposition but I allow for the possibility. Do you know that Lance has raised 25 million dollars for cancer research? How many cancer survivors has Lance given hope to? How many people like you and me that wake up afraid of cancer has Lance given the mindset to fight cancer? We’re not talking about some guy who won seven of the hardest races in the entire world so he could buy a mansion and hundreds of cars. We’re talking about a guy who used his wins as a podium to fight cancer, save lives and give hope. Is that the guy we want to discredit in this world where bankers are stealing from us and CEOs are running away with our retirement accounts? Is Lance the guy we want to knock off of the pedestal while scores of angry young men are running around shooting each other for their share of a corner drug trade? Come on. We don’t have many heroes left. Maybe Lance isn’t perfect but in this world where heroes are hard to come by, why are we going after some one like Lance?

  6. Brian O'Neill says:

    If we judge Lance by this simple standard, “Did his efforts make the world a better place?” then he’s still a hero in myh book. That’s how I would prefer to remember his legacy. Anything else is just spinning wheels-pardon the pun.

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