Politics, religion, and Lance Armstrong; three extremely polarizing topics. Armstrong's guilt seems to be a fait accompli as bits and pieces of his confession emerge while we count down the hours until his Oprah interview. But aside from the scandal, you still have the other facets of Armstrong's legacy to weigh; look at the millions of dollars he has raised for cancer. Look at all the good he has done. But at what cost?
The question that emerges is, can justification be found anywhere in this story? Is the world of cycling so corrupted that Armstrong really had no choice but to do what his competitors were doing to level the playing field? According to the USADA 80% of the Tour de France medalists between 1996 and 2010 have been "similarly tainted by doping." 80%. There is no excusing doping. Clean riders are the ones that pay the price in shortened careers, fewer podium opportunities that lead to major endorsements and in some cases don't even get a shot on the Tours because of the success of performance enhanced competitors.
To me the real crime in this story is the power Armstrong wielded to go after his detractors: the whistleblowers. Armstrong could do no wrong. He took cycling to heights, especially in the U.S., that couldn't have been imagined prior to his career. There was so much money at stake that the industry did not want to believe he was tainted, they did not want to ask the questions. Millions struggling with cancer looked up to Armstrong as a great role model. And now we are watching his world collapse like a house of cards.
The ball is in his court now. Confessing is one thing. Reparation is another.
The questions I would like to pose are; what can we learn from this? What do we do going forward? How can we take the colossal collapse of a superstar and make cycling, other sports and the world a better place?
To me the real issue is societal. We buy into the marketing hype of anything that seems to work. We are the ones that put the Lance Armstrong's of the world on a pedestal. We blindly give them the power. Why? Because we are afraid to ask the important questions; we are afraid of the answers.
Look no further than our own performance and health related drug use. We've made statin drugs a $32 billion a year industry. It is a drug propped up on manipulated and flawed studies. A drug that lowers cholesterol and is promoted for the use of reducing heart disease but does nothing of the sort. Tamiflu is another example of a product that has been approved on manipulated and flawed studies and is being sold to millions. At what cost?
Will these companies "come clean"? Will we see their CEO's on Oprah? Not likely.
As in the case of Lance Armstrong the proof is there for all who are interested in looking for it. And like Lance Armstrong these companies use their money and advertising power to suppress the facts. To hide the truth.
We only have ourselves to blame. The truth is out there, you just have to want to find it. Are you asking the right questions with regards to our society's drug use? The USADA has a 1,000 page document on the case of Lance Armstrong. What are we doing with our case?