If you wikipedia the list of Tour de France winners, in it’s soon to be 100 year history, there is a strange title granted in 6 slots from 1999-2005. This is the time period being called the doping years in which Lance Armstrong, perhaps the biggest cheat in sports, had his named removed and replaced with “vacated.”
This is of course due to the recent findings by the United States Anti Doping Agency’s (USADA) of Armstrong’s masterminding an elaborate doping scheme and stripping him of these 7 consecutive tour wins.
This may be the time to replace that word vacated with “the Truth” as Armstrong goes on Oprah’s NOW network and reveals all in a 2 1/2 hour television spectacle being stretched out for two days, Thursday (1/17) and Friday (1/18)
Regardless of Armstrong’s hopes for redemption and motivations behind this public confession, it does seem the truth is being rewarded on the podium in an era where federal investigations on doping athletes are going nowhere even despite confessions from former team mates and fellow cyclists closely aligned with the sport.
One journalist who has an exceptional talent for flushing out the truth in sports and reporting on the politics of the game is David Zirin, author and sports editor for the Nation magazine.
He knows a thing or two about these kind of politics infecting professional sports and is about to release his latest book, “Game Over, how politics has turned the sports world upside down.” released 1/29/2013
David recently published a piece on the upcoming Lance interview in his blog: edgeofsports.com
I wanted to broaden the discussion a bit about this over buzzed cycling story so I asked David a couple of questions:
1) How do you think this would affect the sports world and fan appreciation if this were Barry Bonds confessing on Oprah?
Zirin: I think because of his work on Livestrong and previous popularity – not to mention the fact that he’s white – creates more cultural space for Lance Armstrong to be forgiven as opposed to Barry Bonds who was prickly, had issues with the media, and faced racism in his career from fans and media alike. But one difference in Bonds’ favor is that no one has accused him of actually leading a ring of a performance enhancing drugs (PED) users. He also never sued anyone for defamation. That’s different.
2) What do you think this media stunt does for the world of professional cycling and doping in sports in general? Does it send a message to cheaters and will it change the sport?
Zirin: We will have to see. Cycling needs a massive reformation in terms of making the sport safer and de-incentivizing PED use. Let’s see if it does. I’m not hopeful. If it’s just about criminalization, then we know that this only leads to more research and funding that goes into finding ways to beat the test.
Here is the story David wrote in his blog:
Lance Armstrong’s Discordant Redemption Song
This week Lance Armstrong, our most famous cyclist/cancer survivor/suspected Performance Enhancing Drug user, aims to do something more daunting than ride a bike up the face of the Pyrenees. He is attempting to ride Oprah’s couch back into the good grace of public opinion. On Monday night, Armstrong will, after 15 years of strenuous, Sherman-esque denials, “come clean” and admit to imbibing in illegal “performance enhancers” during his record-setting career. This will not go well and not only because when the broadcast finally airs Thursday night, it will have already been leaked, dissected, and thoroughly flambéed.
If Armstrong was only trying to win back the public support he’s lost since the United States Anti-Doping Agency stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles, that could prove challenging enough. But he is attempting the public relations of equivalent of riding his bike through the eye of a needle. Armstrong needs to demonstrate to USADA that he is now on, according to reports, a “path to redemption”. This interview is meant to encourage USADA to lift their lifetime ban on Armstrong’s competitive career and allow him to enter triathlons as well as other events under the USADA umbrella.
Read more here.
Also see David on Current TV comparing Lance’s fall from grace to Donald Trump ending up like Fred Sanford, once the parade of lawsuits kicks in.
oh yeah and…”I’m sure this decision won’t haunt you forever…” Lance in the movie Dodgeball: