My friends and family know me as the one person in America who gives a flying fuck about pro-cycling. They also know me as a hardcore supporter of Lance Armstrong. What this means is that whenever there is a cycling scandal, they come to me to dish, and whenever Lance is in the news, they come to me for my thoughts with concern in their voices.
Yesterday I discovered that HusBANG! did, in fact, know that Lance Armstrong was scheduled to be on Oprah this week and was rumored to be planning to confess to doping, but hadn’t brought it up because… well… I assume because he was hoping I somehow didn’t hear about it, and maybe wouldn’t ever. I am certain that whatever happens on Thursday (or rather today, when they are filming) I will have friends asking me for my thoughts, and here’s the truth:
I don’t really want to talk about it.
If the rumors are true and Lance Armstrong admits to doping, lying, large scale coverups, and conspiracy– I’ll feel like an idiot. I’ll feel I’ve been lied to. I’ll feel really silly for defending him time and time again. But mostly, I will feel the loss of a personal hero. Someone I look up to and admire.
One might argue that I am a little too old to look to sports stars as heroes. One might be right. But I don’t admire Armstrong for winning a lot of bike races. I became aware of Armstrong along with the rest of America, but I became a hardcore fan sometime after– when my life was bleak, when the odds seemed insurmountable, when I felt like I may as well just stop trying all together– and then there was Lance Armstrong. Record breaking athlete that was never supposed to live long enough to win a single Tour De France, let alone seven. A man who took that success and poured it into a foundation meant to help others dealing with cancer find support, community, and the optimism he sometimes credits for saving his life. A man, who was seemingly persecuted for nothing more than being better at his sport than a lot of other people.
I related to him on levels that are hard to explain to anyone who wasn’t me during this time. I felt inspired by him. So maybe I am too old to have heroes, but it worked for me at the time.
If that is taken from me, I am sure people will come to either give condolences or to rub my face in it. I am sure people will want to know how it felt, because I’m the only person they know that cares so much.
But I won’t want to talk about it.
It may seem overdramatic, it may not even compute with people who don’t have “heroes” in the public eye–but I will need time to grieve quietly and privately. I will need time to feel like a fucking idiot all by myself.
And if Lance is going on Oprah for some publicity stunt, if the rumors aren’t true…
I probably still won’t want to talk about it. Because let’s be honest, that’s kind of a dick move. As pro-cycling becomes more about figuring out who doped, and who gets the title after it is stripped from someone else, it is harder for me to enjoy it, or even bother to follow it. I’ve seen a lot of cyclists I followed fall into disgrace as part of the drug culture in the sport, and I just feel like I can see much more interesting depictions of druggies by reading Irvine Welsh.