Lance was our hero, but now he's just another fraud

Posted Friday, Aug. 24, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
A

Did Lance Armstrong's decision to stop fighting drug charges change your opinion of his guilt or innocence?

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Lance Armstrong had me at La Mongie.

It was 10 months after the devastation of 9-11, which I had seen first-hand while covering the aftermath in New York City. And here was this gritty American, from Austin by way of North Texas, winning the first mountain stage of the 2002 Tour de France only a few years after wrestling cancer to the ground.

As he crossed the finish line and reclaimed the yellow jersey that day, he gave an understated fist pump. And my heart swelled. I was hooked on professional cycling, and this athlete, for all time.

A couple of weeks later, the American flag flew on the Champs-Elysees for the fourth straight year. This time, I cried as I watched.

Thanks, Lance, for the incredible memories. For the heartstopping hop across the hay field on the way to Gap. For your fierce ride to the front after hooking the musette on Luz-Ardiden. For The Look at Jan Ullrich on Alpe d’Huez. For the moving salute to the heavens in honor of your fallen friend, Fabio Casartelli, at Limoges.

Thanks for the spectacle of the Texas flag flying over the roads of France, and for those seven rides into Paris behind your faithful lieutenant, George Hincapie.

Mostly, thank you for inspiring millions in the war against cancer.

But now, please, for the sake of your legacy, stop asking us to believe that you, of all people, would give up the fight if you had been wrongly accused.

Anyone who follows cycling knew that this story wasn’t going to turn out well. For me, the suspension of disbelief all but ended last year when Hincapie, the ultimate loyal teammate, wouldn’t deny reports that he had told a grand jury about Armstrong’s doping.

Sure, there was still room for doubt. Maybe it was true that everyone was out to get him: the jealous French, journalists with a grudge, former teammates lying to save themselves. And, OK, maybe it was possible that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency was nursing some sort of crazy vendetta.

But ... really? Does this massive conspiracy theory stand up to unbiased examination?

I don’t think so.

Lance Armstrong’s extraordinary life has played out in public, and we feel as if we know him. Of course, we want to believe in him.

Today, however, there’s no way around the truth. His decision to stop fighting doping charges, even though he still proclaims his innocence, has sealed it.

I believe that he cheated. Yes, he was playing by the “rules” in cycling, where doping was (is?) as routine as brushing your teeth. Yes, he was better than all those other cheaters.

Still, we’re left with no other conclusion than that one of the greatest athletes of our time was a fraud, like so many of his contemporaries.

And, sadly, the increasingly bizarre denials threaten to tarnish Armstrong's legacy far more than any EPO injection before a decisive mountain stage ever could.

Kathy Vetter is managing editor for digital and local news and an avid cyclist who's known around the office as the biggest Lance fangirl in town.

Kathy Vetter, 817-390-7380, Twitter: @30bike

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Monday, April 21Full Scoreboard
Baltimore0Bottom 1st | Box
Boston0@theBallpark | TV: MLB Network, MASN, NESN
Kansas City 4/21 7:05 PM ET
Cleveland TV: FSN-KC, STO
Cincinnati 4/21 7:05 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: FSN-OH, ESPN
LA Angels 4/21 7:05 PM ET
Washington TV: FSN-W, MASN
Chicago WSox 4/21 7:08 PM ET
Detroit TV: WCIU, FSN-DET
Miami 4/21 7:10 PM ET
Atlanta TV: FSN-FL, SPSO
St. Louis 4/21 7:10 PM ET
NY Mets TV: FSN-MW, WPIX
Arizona 4/21 8:05 PM ET
Chicago Cubs TV: FSN-AZ, CSN-CHI+
San Diego 4/21 8:10 PM ET
Milwaukee TV: FSN-SD, FSN-WI
San Francisco 4/21 8:40 PM ET
Colorado TV: CSN-BA, ROOT-RM
Texas 4/21 10:05 PM ET
Oakland TV: FSN-SW, CSN-CA
Philadelphia 4/21 10:10 PM ET
Los Angeles TV: CSN-PHI, SportsNet LA
Houston 4/21 10:10 PM ET
Seattle TV: CSN-HOU, ROOT-NW
Full Scoreboard
Monday, April 21Full Scoreboard
Memphis 4/21 8:00 PM ET
Oklahoma City TV: TNT, FSN-OK
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Oklahoma City leads series, 1-0.
Golden State 4/21 10:30 PM ET
LA Clippers TV: TNT, CSN-BAY
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Golden State leads series, 1-0.
Full Scoreboard
Full Scoreboard
No games this week
Full Scoreboard
Monday, April 21Full Scoreboard
Pittsburgh 4/21 7:00 PM ET
Columbus TV: NBCSN, CBC, ROOT, FSN-OH
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Three. Series tied, 1-1.
Colorado 4/21 7:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: TSN, NHL Net, Altitude
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Three. Colorado leads series, 2-0.
St. Louis 4/21 8:30 PM ET
Chicago TV: CNBC, CBC, FSN-MW, CSN
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Three. St. Louis leads series, 2-0.
Anaheim 4/21 9:30 PM ET
Dallas TV: NBCSN, TSN, RDS
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Three. Anaheim leads series, 2-0.
Full Scoreboard