Roger Rilling on Lance Armstrong: There are no pro-cycling superheroes, and the wounds created by pretending there were need to heal.
As listed in the Webster dictionary, ashamed is a feeling of shame, guilt or disgrace. As I sit trying to digest part 1 of the Oprah Lance saga, for the first time ever, I feel ashamed of my past as a pro cyclist. I feel ashamed not because I was ever involved with doping or cheating or lying but because I fell under the era of many who were. Men who were praised, looked up to and idealized by many, including myself at one point. The word is out, Lance Armstrong is a cheater!
After years of turning the tables on all who stood in his way Lance has finally come clean. Yet, his Oprah confession does nothing to win over my jaded heart. Over the years I have grown to accept, and sadly, expect some pro riders of using drugs. Lance was no exception. But for some reason just hearing him answer the yes and no questions within the first 2 minutes of the interview really upset me. Perhaps, like many Americans, I wanted to believe the superhero story of Lance. Perhaps, I wanted cycling to somehow come out on top. Perhaps, I wanted my friends that are still racing in the pro ranks to still have jobs. Perhaps, I still wanted to be proud of saying I was a pro cyclist.
As hard of a pill as it is to swallow, I am glad Lance has confessed. Hopefully this giant news story will help the sport of cycling eventually, heal from the wounds the old leaders have left on it. Cycling has cleaned up, you can tell by some of the race metrics (they are now just great rather than being amazing) but I fear that once again, the non-cheaters will be overshadowed by the cheaters. Sadly, not many people are going to remember 2012 as the year Bradley Wiggins won the Tour but they will remember Lance loosing his 7 Tour titles. Sponsors have already dropped out of the sport and I am assuming will continue to which means talented, non-cheating athletes are being cheated of chance to live their dreams. I openly take this point the hardest since I can directly relate to having my dreams compromised by the actions of others.
In 5-10 years cycling will be a better sport for the clean athlete but for now the wounds need to heal. For riders Like Taylor Phinney and Tejay Van Garderen this means the peak of their careers will be spent fighting to help save cycling rather than enjoying their hopefully clean, race wins.
Too many good people have been hurt by all of this and will continue to hurt from this. So I would like propose that we start the “Fuck Cheaters” campaign, we can make bracelets and give half of the proceeds to Cancer research and half to helping reconstruct the sport of cycling and assure that those that did not cheat and are not cheating can still have a pro sport they do not have to feel ashamed of.