I’d like to play the Sesame Street game “one of these things just doesnt belong here,” but 2 more arrows have landed in Lance’s back this past few weeks and they are crushing.
George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton were his most loyal of soldiers. Hamilton through the early days of the Blue Train and Hincapie for each of Armstrong’s 7 Tour de France wins. Now with these domestiques testifying before a grand jury looking into Armstrong’s past that they witnessed him take performance enhancing drugs, the jig is just about up.
The usual denial from Armstrong came, as did a bolstering of his legal team.
I’m not one for idol worship, but I do have sports heroes. I wrote a post a few years ago (since lost in a site crash) called I Am Lance.
In it I wrote about how when I was a young goalie I would skate from board to board along the goal line at whistles like Richard Brodeur. I wrote about how I would skip and limp around the school at lunch time as if I was Terry Fox. I wrote about how, when faced with a tough training run I would mutter to myself “no gifts” and visualize Lance’s ascending L’Alpe D’Huez to complete my challenge.
Lance Armstrong was the closest thing I had to an idol.
I can’t describe how the news hit me other than to say it would be like a 13 year old girl discovering that Justin Bieber is actually bald – the hair nothing but a wig. The one thing that gave him magical Samson-esque powers of persuasion nothing but a lie.
The thing that inspired me about Armstrong was his take no prisoners approach on the course. His huge comeback from insurmountable odds to dominate his sport and his endless commitment to give back were things I would often think about.
I took time out from a honeymoon in 2005 to watch the start of a TdF stage in Troyes, France (that’s the pic I took at the head of this article). An entire day on the train and waiting in the town for a 4 second glimpse of Armstrong leading the peleton out of town.
I wear yellow, a lot of yellow. Sure it helps that my name is Buzz and I have an affinity for wearing black and yellow as “my colours,” but I’m also a huge supporter of Armstrong’s Wear Yellow initiative.
Wristbands. Shoes, Jackets. T shirts. Hats. Gym bags. Jerseys. I have them all.
Now what do I do?
The fact that Armstrong took drugs doesn’t change the fact he faced cancer and beat it back. The fact that Armstrong took drugs doesn’t change the fact he’s the greatest advocate for the fight against cancer since Terry Fox.
Despite the tightening noose of the allegations, Armstrong’s businesses have never been stronger.
The fact that Armstrong took drugs does change the essence of his brand. The reason he’s famous. The reason I would get up in the pre-dawn hours each July to watch Le Tour. The reason I replay this video in my head when I’m hitting a wall.