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

Posted Friday, Aug. 24, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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 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?

Saturday, November 22Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Saturday, November 22Full Scoreboard
Phoenix «106Final | Box
Miami «99Final | Box
Toronto «110Final | Box
Philadelphia83Final | Box
New York «91
Dallas864th Qtr 3:22 | Box
Houston81TV: FSN-SW, CSN-HOU
Sacramento1064th Qtr 1:45 | Box
Minnesota97TV: CSN-CA, FSN-N
Washington743rd Qtr 1:00 | Box
Milwaukee68TV: CSN-DC+, FSN-WI
Brooklyn694th Qtr 9:02 | Box
San Antonio81TV: YES, FSN-SW
New Orleans573rd Qtr | Box
Full Scoreboard
Week 12Full Scoreboard
Kansas City20Final | Box
Oakland «24Gridiron Replay
Cleveland 1:00 PM ET
Atlanta TV: CBS
Tampa Bay 1:00 PM ET
Chicago TV: FOX
Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: CBS
Jacksonville 1:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: CBS
Green Bay 1:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FOX
Detroit 1:00 PM ET
New England TV: FOX
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: CBS
St. Louis 4:05 PM ET
San Diego TV: FOX
Arizona 4:05 PM ET
Seattle TV: FOX
Miami 4:25 PM ET
Denver TV: CBS
Washington 4:25 PM ET
San Francisco TV: CBS
Dallas 8:30 PM ET
NY Giants TV: NBC
NY Jets 7:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Baltimore 8:30 PM ET
New Orleans TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Saturday, November 22Full Scoreboard
St. Louis «3Final | Box
Montreal «2Final | Box
Detroit1Final | Box
Toronto «4
Minnesota1Final | Box
Tampa Bay «2
Pittsburgh1Final | Box
NY Islanders «4
Columbus2Final | Box
Philadelphia «4
Buffalo «2Final | Box
Florida03rd Prd 7:01 | Box
Nashville1TV: FSN-FL
Los Angeles33rd Prd 18:17 | Box
Dallas5TV: FSN-W, FSN-SW+
Carolina32nd Prd 10:31 | Box
Colorado2TV: FSN-CAR, Altitude
New Jersey11st Prd 15:09 | Box
Calgary0TV: MSG+2, SNET
Chicago21st Prd 14:01 | Box
Edmonton0TV: CBC, TVA Sports 2, WGN
Arizona 11/22 10:30 PM ET
Full Scoreboard