Friday, May 28, 2010

Oh, Lance.

I bet if you own a bike, you have an opinion about Lance Armstrong.

Just in case you have nothing better to read this afternoon, here's mine.

Reading "It's Not About the Bike" after I was diagnosed was mind-blowing.  The story was a good one when I read it for the first time.  But the second time was like reading about my own life.  Other than the whole winning the Tour seven times thing. And that's just because they don't let women ride in it. 

Lance is one intense mutha-fucker.  Maybe you'd call him a jackass.  As someone know for opening her mouth at inopportune times and taking ill-advised flyers off the front to a race just to get my thirty dollars worth out of it, I get that.   

I get that the first thought that went through his mind when he received his diagnosis was that it would effect his bike racing.  I get the whole thing about being weak and poisoned and despondent.  I get the epiphanies that you get when you realize that you are being given a second chance to get your shit together and go be the person in the world that you were supposed to be all along.

I get all that.

What I don't get is what to think about Lance and doping.  Here's why.  He's a survivor.

Lance went thought something significantly more toxic than I am enduring.  The radioactive substances they pumped into his body killed his reproductive system, wasted his body and caused uncontrollable nausea.  What I am going through is much more doable, but the fact doesn't change that it is all incredibly toxic.  My body and my soul will never be the same. 

After being exposed to so much toxicity, after being stared in the faced with my own mortality, I couldn't imagine going back out into the world and exposing my body to more chemicals, more medical uncertainties, solely for the purpose of winning races.  It makes zero sense to me. 

If the hand grenades that Floyd has been launching at Lance and the cycling institution turn out to be true, I'll be honest with you.  I'll be sort of devastated.  

I used to not care about this sort of stuff.  Cheaters were cheaters and we all know about cheaters not prospering.  Or dying of heart attacks at 35 or having their balls shrink into their chests.  They all get their's in the end.

But Lance?  Lance is a survivor.  No, correction, Lance has made himself into "The Survivor."  If he also turns out to be a doper it will feel like a slap in the face to thousands of other survivors who have drawn inspiration and strength from his intensity and perseverance. 

Oh, Lance.  


But, all of that aside, as a cancer survivor, I cannot help but appreciate the attention he has brought to our disease and the struggles that survivors face even when we become cancer free.  So there's that. 

So I'm suspending judgment for the time being and am planning to support the efforts of the Lance Armstrong  Foundation by riding the Tour des Chutes on July 17.   Because, when it really comes down to it, there are still survivors out there, and sometimes we need all of the help we can get.


Anonymous said...

Oh, come on. Maybe I'm just jaded, but I strongly suspect all the "top guys" are doping. You don't need Floyd to see that.

If Floyd was smart, back in the day he'd have kept some tangible evidence (photos, recordings, ...) as "insurance" to back up any future claims (ala the BALCO scandal -

I'm guessing though, that at the time Floyd wasn't interested in bringing down the doping system and didn't consider that. The lack of hard evidence will mean this gets swept under the rug.

Anonymous said...

Of course, all that being said, all the good work Lance has done with regards to cancer is undeniable!

uma k. • velo devi said...

I think your soul will always be the same. In fact, it is your soul that will remain absolutely unchanged, because it is essentially the one thing disease, or chemo, or drugs or surgery can never reach. Maybe it will just have more room in your new life.

Anonymous said...

The question of whether or not he did it or didnt do it is irrelevant. Even if you presume that he did it, he has done more good than harm for the world by wide margin. Why are people so hell-bent on "punishing" a guy that has dedicated his life to raising money for cancer research as well as simply inspiring others? What good comes from it? The villains here are the ones trying to increase their own fame, fortune or whatever at his expense.

Ellen said...

Read the book, "From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France" (David Walsh, 2007). After reading just the first few chapters it's pretty evident there is no way he could NOT have been involved with doping earlier in his career. There is no way everyone was doping except Lance. He was surrounded by it and was under a medical "program" for 6-7 years with a doctor well known for doping athletes.