What Lance Means to Us

Lance Armstrong agreed to submit to sanctions yesterday, and will be stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles. He continues to deny the doping charges, and it isn’t clear that he’s guilty. It’s not even clear that stripping his titles is a just punishment: He’s still the best in a cohort where everyone, we are led to believe, cheats, and perhaps some sort of truth and reconciliation process would be more appropriate.

It isn’t even clear to me that doping is all bad. Granted, this is debatable, but I wonder whether performance-enhancing drugs shouldn’t become accepted in our technologically-advanced world, as biological purity begins to look quaint and indefinable. Lance can almost be seen as outpacing outdated rules…

However you see it, we are diminished by this. I’m not an avid cycling fan, but Lance is a cultural hero, popular for his character and his leadership in fighting cancer, and his fall from grace saddens me. He’s one of the very good guys. It’s unclear what it says about me that I continue to believe him, or at least want to, and that I still believe he’s one of our best, even if he is lying.

Lance’s statement is worth reading in its entirety. These aren’t the words of the disgraced. He goes out fighting.

One thing is clear: He’s still a champion.

Jeremy Felt and Meg Hourihan wrote some similar thoughts that inspired this post.

Update: Ben Kunz on Twitter:

“Maybe we all like the idea of Lance Armstrong more than we like Lance Armstrong.”