Who is Lance?
Somewhere in this mess there is the perception that Lance is some sort of saint. Personally, I don't remember Lance being sanctified at any point nor ever claiming such a title. Somewhere between 1999 and 2001 the media made Lance into a saint-like figure fresh in the wake of his cancer drama and initial Tour victories. The reality is simply that Lance Armstrong is a man's man. Society elevated Lance to what they wanted him to be but who he is actually is never wavered with fame. People have tended to put blinders on with Lance over the last decade but it is impossible to deny or be angered by the type of man he is. Let's keep in mind first and foremost Lance is a Texan. Think for a minute about every Texan that you have ever met. Big state, big attitude, nothing bad but unquestionably different from what the social norm is in other places. Secondly, Lance loves beer. I know Lance looses some serious style points by endorsing Michelob ULTRA but what other athlete has the stones to endorse beer? If your willing to read more in depth you will find that Lance is an unwavering fan of the Shiner family of beers which nobody can take exception with. Lest we also forget that Lance is also a notorious lover of beautiful women. Lance's conquests are legendary and he has never tried to church up the fact that he has been around the block a few time. Remember a few years ago when a drunk Lance got into it with a bouncer in Texas because he was walking away from the bar with his beer in hand? Haven't we all been there before? On top of all of that it is blatantly obvious that Lance is a control freak. Read Lance Armstrong's War if you doubt this claim for a second. I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite reads of all time because it highlights who Lance really is and the fact that it is on display for all to see. All great athletes are control freaks, it's the nature of the beast. I'm a control freak, does that make me a bad person too?
Gifford's attack on Lance really pissed me off but his attack on Livestrong infuriated me to the point of writing this entry. Gifford suggests that Livestrong is corrupt and that the entire purpose of the organization is to shield Lance from doping allegations. Even the title of the article shows Gifford's lack of understanding of Livestrong's expressed mission. Gifford attacks Livstrong for not donating more to cancer research despite the fact that they expressly do not set out to raise money for cancer research. The Livestrong home page even has a pie chart showing the distribution of funds through different programs that help heighten cancer awareness. Livestrong has always claimed that their top priority is the idea of survivorship which helps families fill the vacuum once treatment stops. Gifford's claims and reporting are irresponsible and it is clear that he has an axe to grind with Armstrong. Gifford's other major claim is that because Lance is a cheater that Livestrong was founded under a sort of false pretense that effectively renders the entire organization useless. I wonder how many patients Gifford consulted and how many of them cared whether or not Lance doped in any of his tours. The organization can be greater than the sum of its parts even if the most major part doped. Livestrong cannot help the public perception that they fund cancer research nor should they fight to do so. When has Outside Magazine ever taken on the perception that their magazine is noting but a glorified coupon book that showcases yuppie vacations? Hmmm?
My first mug of coffee is wearing off with my anger as I write so on this snowy morning I will leave you with this. Is cycling a dirty sport? Yup. Is Lance Gandhi? Nope. Is Lance still a badass? Yup.