Imagine for a moment if Superman really did appear in the sky. A man flying through the sky would certainly raise a few eyebrows, and I imagine the red ink would really start to flow. Surely he took some performance enhancing drugs in order to fly, right? He couldn’t really be stronger than steel, and dammit, if an Olympic athlete can’t leap over a building in a single bound, no way can some honest-to-goodness superhero do it without taking drugs of some sort. Never mind that we can’t find it in any of our tests. Hell, he’s made of steel. We couldn’t even draw blood. We had to depend on the urine tests. And no, none of those were conclusive, and yes, he always cooperated with us, but there’s a whole bunch of people who used to work with him that say he took drugs. Reliable folks like Lex Luthor.
I know I’m exaggerating, but really, I sort of felt like somebody took a hero away from me when I heard Lance Armstrong was going to be stripped of his Tour de France titles. It’s just wrong. Lance Armstrong has never tested positive for drugs, and I have no doubt whatsoever that he has been tested more often than any other athlete ever in any sport. And he’s finally just gotten sick of fighting this battle with a federal agency whose jurisdiction in his case is questionable, at best, and they jump on his refusal to continue fighting and strip him of everything he’s earned.
What message is this supposed to send us?
I’m not a competitive cyclist, as anybody who has ever seen me pedaling along on my two-wheeler could tell you. I’m not an athlete or a sports writer (thank goodness). Maybe I don’t even have a right to speak up here, since I’ve never even watched the Tour de France on television. What I am, however, is someone who admires people who accomplish amazing things. Some of my heroes: Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Bill and Hillary Clinton (yep) and Kofi Annan. And, still, Lance Armstrong. Even if he never gets his titles back.
I believe some people have extraordinary abilities. Superheroes? No. But I believe it is possible to love something so much and work at it so hard that you hone your abilities and surpass anything anyone has ever done before. You can fine-tune your body to do amazing things if you have the drive to accept the pain. I do not believe that anyone could pass drug test after drug test for years and years and still be using drugs. I just don’t believe it’s possible.
What I do believe exists, however, are witch hunts. I think sometimes a group or an individual can convince themselves something is or isn’t true and search and search until they find “evidence” that supports their convictions, in spite of all the real evidence to the contrary that they’ve encountered over the years. These are the people who tell their kids the tooth fairy doesn’t exist, by the way.
I want someone to overturn the USADA’s decision. Give Lance Armstrong back what he earned and deserves. And for God’s sake, stop the witch hunt, already. Accept that he’s done something amazing because he worked hard to achieve it.