Lance Armstrong has long been a figure of suspicion but today’s revelations in Sports Illustrated include new allegations and more detail on stories that you might have seen before.
|Down and out?
Rather than comments on the specifics, although I’d urge to read the article, I wanted to take a longer look at things.
First, a wild thought. It could be that the federal case is struggling and that the agents involved have decided to leak some elements out due to frustration. Unable to nail the case, they can at least air some of the information that they’ve come across. This might be unlikely but it’s possible.
But my biggest observation is that the article is being covered by Sports Illustrated. Known to many because of its swimsuit calendar, this is an all-American sports magazine and website with plenty of coverage of the NFL, basketball and baseball. It’s Main Street meets mainstream media.
So it marks a big turn when sections of the media like this are willing to carry hefty allegations over someone who has bordered on a national hero. Once the preserve of internet forum crackpots, the story slowly became more accepted and now the idea that Armstrong doped his way around France has gone totally mainstream.
The force of denial
A final observation is that some who lives a lie can believe in their story very strongly. A lesson from the Festina trials and other cases is that several riders struggled to admit they were doing wrong. From an outsider’s view, it’s an obvious breach of the rules conducted on an industrial scale. But a lot of pros at the time were using “heavy doping” and it was simply seen as part of the job. Now I happen to believe that’s fundamentally mistaken and risky. But don’t underestimate the force of denial, sometimes it’s not about putting on a brave face, the rider might be totally convinced inside.
Anyway, Armstrong’s career is coming to an end now and I suspect his reputation is likely to come crashing down with it. It’s now open season for the media pack-hunt.