Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In Defense of Lance Armstrong & Other Cheats

Lance Armstrong
Nutless Wonder

"It doesn't matter if you win or lose, but how you play the game." Ask any champion and they will tell you that cliche' is something that losers say.

Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones, Hulk Hogan, Mark McGuire and many others made the cardinal sin of cheating to win. After months of bad press, the greatest competitive cycler of all time has officially hit rock bottom. The Lance Armstrong Foundation has dropped the name of its eponymous creator and will now be known as the Livestrong Foundation. Wow...

Lance Armstrong
Running From The Truth

His story is unparalleled, Shakespearean in scope and breadth. A cocky, gum-flapping athlete battled insurmountable odds after a devastating cancer diagnosis, his greasy soul barely slipping the surly clutches of a certain dirt nap. Ultimately, he rehabilitated his battered body and morphed into a champion.

Not only did Lance Armstrong improbably return to the sport he loved, professional cycling, he used his unfailing narrative as a stick and beat to death his opponents by winning the most grueling sporting event on the planet of earth: The Tour De France. Seven times, wearing that bright yellow shirt.

Lance Armstrong
Beez in the Trap

He must have had help, right? I mean, you can’t just win the Tour that many times without some aid and angels. As much as everyone wanted to believe Lance’s performance was the result of clean living and hard training, there were whispers for years that he was dirtier than a bum’s ass. The French cycling daily L’Equipe published a long story in August 2005 accusing him of failing a 1999 drug test by using EPO, or erythropoietin, a blood booster commonly used by cyclists to aid in red blood-cell production. The French said he was a habitual doper who had enough money and support to insulate himself from the rules that sought to protect the sport from enhanced athletes who posed an unfair advantage to non-tainted riders. Lance said he didn’t trust the French testing system, probably because they detected those pesky drugs.

He decided to give up the ghost and cease fighting the continual doping charges in August 2012. But as backlash gripped Lance fans, there was a deeper question more important than simple outrage: Why are people so mad at Lance Armstrong when logic should have told them the guy was doing nothing short of spiking his veins, spinning his blood, and biting off chicken heads to achieve his inhuman feats?

Back in Austin and just layin' around...
Kiss The Ring, Bitch
Is it because drugs are bad for you? Why are they bad for you? Just because, right? The circular argument is that putting bad things in your body is dangerous and unfair and thus immoral and dangerous. But plenty of things are dangerous and unfair. How about zooming down one-lane, winding mountain passes with eager teenagers ringing cowbells in your face, otherwise known as a typical stage in the Tour DE France? That seems kind of dangerous. What about being hit at the speed of semi truck or should I say running down field for a touchdown? What about jumping and vaulting on a stick? Doesn't sound safe to me.

Lance is accused by the USADA of blood doping. That is essentially harvesting your own oxygen-rich blood cells (or borrowing some from a friendly matching donor - sharing is caring.) and later injecting them at a critical point (like before a bike race) to deliver more oxygen to working muscles so they can perform longer and stronger.

Of all the techniques and tools in the cycling arsenal, this one I find totally inoffensive. It’s your blood! If you want to make yourself all sickly and anemic and shiver like a hairless cat when the refrigerated sanguine smoothie glugs back into your body, then have at it. As far as I’m concerned, if drinking your own urine somehow made you faster in a time trial, then bottoms up. It’s gross, and it’s weird, but it’s yours.

We expect wins from our champions, our heroes and sometimes the "wins" should be obvious how they were derived. If they don't produce, we discard them, fire them, trade them, make them free agents or just pretend they never existed.

What then is the distinction between blood doping, taking appetite suppressants or a supplement to boost health, memory, or stamina? Those things are not something derived of nature and can therefore be harmful if not taken correctly. Why should every accomplishment that these modern day gladiators be stripped away based on arbitrary rules of a bureaucratic agency? Why should the agency play the hypocrite game by blaming the athletes while pretending to have no knowledge of doping?

Maybe we should stop asking athletes to defy gravity, kinesiology, and the laws of physics, then whine when we learn that these are regular men and women with insurmountable odds and unbearable pressure. Sure cheating may be wrong in an ethical sense, but does that negate every achievement ever received by these people. Does this change the fact that his Livestrong foundation helped raise awareness about cancer?  I would say no. What is the greater good here? Imagined purity of a sport where doping is as common as a snake hissing? Please...

Who does doping hurt other than the doper? Maybe people are comparing drugs like crack to EPO. If drugs could be taxed by the US Government, believe me they would be legal. Cheaters win and winners cheat and the notion of fairness and goodwill is just something that we tell the kids when they lose a little league game.

Lance Armstrong
Where is My Pimp Chalice?

So, let's toast to the douche bags, cheaters, vulture capitalists, instead of tearing them down or hold all cheats to the same standard. By cheaters I mean people who are successful with help from technology, like the majority of singers and rappers. Don't forget the models and actresses who utilize the magic of airbrushing to convince us they have flawless skin and no body fat. They are the direct manifestation of all our hopes and aspirations and to deny them is to deny our true selves. The difference between them and us is that they do whatever it takes to win and actually have the ability to in fact be winners. Whereas we are content to just bet on the game, they actually get on the field and play.


Anonymous said...

Errr, drugs are taxed: alcohol, tobacco, you know the arbitrarily chosen socially acceptable ones.

Rebel Flower said...

Yeah...that was kind of the point...alcohol and tobacco were implicit

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