Friday, August 24, 2012

Prove It

I'm choosing to believe Lance Armstrong.

I've been watching him race since 1999 when my elder boylet was in Europe as a graduation present. Pierre was biking many of the same segments that the Tour de France riders were--Col du Madeleine, L'Alpe D'Huez, etc. I cheered for Lance and vicariously enjoyed the scenery that my son was biking.

And I became a fan of the Tour over the years, knowing the routes and rest days, marvelling at the calories each competitor used daily, watching the riders get thin and gaunt toward the end of the grueling rides through Europe, knowing the difference between the polka-dotted jersey, the green one and the white jersey.

(Having a kid who loves to compete in a sport will do that to a mom, especially if an American is breaking records at the same time.)

The French press was never enamoured of the brash Texan who'd claimed their race as his own personal stomping grounds.  But it delighted me that his detailed preparation for the storied Tour seemed so obvious and yet previously unheard of.  Ride the Col three times so you know every turn, every grade, every bush on the side and then beat the pants off the competition during that stage--how bizarre.

I know that doping is rampant.  Especially in the bicycling world.  So maybe he is just another rider taking advantage of loopholes or shortcuts to winning.  So say some of his teammates.  Certainly some of them have stooped to illegal means to win.  Armstrong is a perfectionist and the consummate competitor so I'm guessing he may not be the ultimate nice-guy boss.

Still, the guy probably has more urine stored around the world due to hundreds of tests, during and after races, than Scrooge McDuck has dollars.  And how many of those samples have tested positive for drugs of any kind? And those liquids are there for any future whiz-bang tests that are invented.  Given that probability, I wonder why the guy would constantly reiterate his innocence.

Anyway, if there were a trial and hearsay was all the evidence that was produced versus a gazillion clean laboratory reports...if I were a juror I know what my verdict would be.

I'm a Livestrong supporter too.  It's Not About The Bike still inspires me, especially now that our family is involved in two fights against cancer.  No matter how bad the news is, I realize that his diagnoses went from bad to horrendous and he still pulled through.  And then won seven Tours.  So, yeah, he represents hope to me and I don't want him to be guilty.

He is also, as my son says, "a freak of nature".  His body is physically suited to the crazy business of professional cycling.  He's figured out ways to use oxygen that most of us mere mortals can't even imagine.  And lactic acid--no problem.  So it's possible that between the intensive preparation, extensive training and a warrior's body, that he could just be blessed instead of using EPO or whatever.

I guess I'm firmly in the "innocent till proven guilty" camp. 

Naive? 

Maybe.

Time will tell. That's my two cents worth--stepping off my soapbox now,