An article at CNN today proclaims “Armstrong doping scandal casts shadow over cycling.” Without going into a long, drawn-out analysis, of which you can find many on the web, I present here a few thoughts on the subject from no less a reliable source than my own rather limited brain.
- Doping appears to have been endemic to cycling for a long time. That said, it should be remembered that banned substances don’t make you a superman, they just give you a competitive edge in a sport where seconds count. A lot of people made some lousy choices “because everyone was doing it,” but nothing should take away from the fact that Mr. Armstrong and his colleagues were incredible, driven athletes who spent agonizing hours, months, and years in training and against incredible odds.
- Sponsors are fleeing in droves, if only to protect their own bottom line from the taint of guilt by association, but they will be back when the sport has cleaned house.
- Livestrong has done incredible things in the support of those suffering from cancer. The errors of the man should not take away from the successes of the foundation.
- Cycling will survive. The microscope now trained upon the sport is a sure guarantee that steps will be taken to purge the doping culture, dial back the expectations about 10%, and rebuild the sport on a clean footing. Rabobank stated, “We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport. We are not confident that this will change for the better in the foreseeable future,” but that’s corporate weasel-speak for “we’re covering our own asses.”
Ceteris paribus, there may not be another Lance Armstrong waiting in the wings at the moment, but given the history of sports in general, I have no doubt there will be another champion before too long, one who can make both spectators and sponsors sit up and take notice. It may be a long road back, but long roads, with lots of hills, are what these athletes are used to.
The Old Wolf has spoken.