If you believe that Lance Armstrong was a Type A cycling champion of the world, you're wrong. There is insurmountable evidence that he was a Type B.
The difference between A and B means something but not very much. I happen to be one of those people who believe that drugs and doping and all possible types of medical enhancements should be perfectly legal in open competition. At a certain point, all such sports will reach an uncanny valley and limit their appeal. Like using chairs in wrestling.
Today, there is no 'unlimited' open class of cycling competition because cycling, like a number of other sports has inherited an ethos designed to produce a certain kind of champion acceptable to the public. If you examine the history of the sport, you would know that the Tour de France was the French response for their military losses in WW1. It was designed to inspire macho patriotism in France. It was a manly man contest designed to produce that certain sort of champion the man who could endure anything, and gin up military volunteerism. That's the reason, for example, that there is no female equivalent. As a macho patriot, none of this bothers me. In fact it appeals to me, and quite frankly as much as I enjoyed watching the Tour this year, I find the competitors to be unattractively bony, and not nearly as macho as befits my sort of champion. It's an aesthetic quibble. It's the difference between Type A and Type B.
The governing body of cycling, the UCI, has outsourced its drug enforcement regime to an outfit called the USADA. This contractor has been acting like an agency out of control with regard to its due process in regards to Lance Armstrong whom they have convicted of their capital crime some 15 years after the fact. The evidentiary rules of the USADA would not stand the scrutiny of any first world nation, but it's the best that the UCI can do. That's not such a shame as all things go, but it does rather demolish the purposes of producing champions.
In the long view of things, cycling has dealt itself a staggering blow by engaging in the destruction and disgrace of its greatest American champion, perhaps its greatest champion ever. The manner in which it has done so brings to mind the Inquisition. For to bring down Armstrong required threats against his team and his wife, and the repercussions of this have forced confessions from just about all the top cyclists living today. Like the Inquisition, the indictment of Armstrong has burned down the house in order to save it, and destroyed more of the credibility of the leadership of its governing body than the men whose souls have been tainted by their capital heresy.
Commensurately, those sponsors attending to their Type A champions will dispose of them. Today Nike has begun whitewashing their brand of the name of Armstrong. Was Armstrong great because of Nike or was Nike great because of Armstrong? None of that matter, you see? It's all about what championship is supposed to inspire.
Lance Armstrong survived cancer.
To survive cancer is to decide to live, against all odds, bearing any burden, come what may. And it is to fight with that conviction day by motherfucking day. Do or die. That is a greater challenge by far than riding a $10,000 bicycle up and down mountains for two weeks. This ought to be self-evident, but in the commercial scheme of things, the championship of cancer survival is less entertaining than sport. Nevertheless, there are sufficient numbers of people around the world who are keen to mark the importance of cancer survival. They are engaged in life and death struggles. Such people found in Lance Armstrong an excellent champion competing for his life in an unlimited class whose governing body sanctions the use of drugs, doping and all possible types of medical enhancements. Evidently, he learned his lesson well.
In the game of life, Lance Armstrong remains the truest of champions. In the game of cycling, not so much. I find the ruthless ways and coercive means of the USADA both shoddy and dispicable, but I cannot raise that to a charge of injustice. After all, it's just a sport and the greatest sportsman can only be that. The cycling world will be engaged in a titanic deck-chair swapping exercise to find a 'pure' champion in the ranks of the also rans of the past two decades. Have fun with that.
Armstrong's regime of deception cuts to the core of what the notariety of sport is really supposed to symbolize, A or B. He walked away from cycling in a petulant display of disgust not long ago. He was being hounded by an organization, not ironically, that wished to win at any cost. Now that organization has produced its insurmountable evidence, and the public will make its decision. My sentiments are with Armstrong's team despite the fact that they should sleep more soundly now that their cheating is out in the open. They outsmarted the kops, but in the end got klobbered. The worst thing Armstrong can do now is blubber out an apology-script and go crawl into a hole. I expect a Colonel Jessup performance. For what Armstrong has done to be an inspiration to cancer survivors, I think he genuinely deserves to repeat the line.
And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way.