Time and truth finally catch up on Armstrong
TIPPING POINT:Cycling must learn from the galling thought that that the American almost rode into the sunset with money and reputation intact
Lance Armstrong is reportedly worth about $125 million. Maybe that will be sufficient consolation for him – maybe. More likely it will allow him a more comfortable misery. At the risk of verging into Hollywood schmaltz, it’s hard to put a value on being able to look at yourself in the mirror and feeling comfortable with what’s staring back. Armstrong is 40 now, hopefully at least only halfway through his life. That’s a lot of pretending not to care about what people are saying about you.
Maybe the money will provide him with enough privacy to not worry about that – maybe.
What that kind of money certainly allows Armstrong is the resources to be able to fight the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) through any courtroom he wanted, tie the thing up in knots for a long time, maintaining the pretence for even more years. But he isn’t doing so. And since Armstrong is famously thorough in his thought-processes, one can only conclude he has engaged in damage control, preferring this route and putting a brake on some of the evidence the Usada were prepared to unveil.
That he has raised such an ignominious white flag has been surprising but hardly shocking to anyone who has bothered to rationally look at the scale of cycling’s deception over the last 15 years and it has probably pleased the platoons of faceless suits in the sport’s administration as well as a corporate engine that gladly bought into the Armstrong myth for as long as it suited them.
Since the amount of money involved in that world makes Lance’s nine figures look paltry, the chances of the suits facing the sort of public opprobrium as Armstrong are about as realistic as hopes that those who finished behind the American in all those famous races were Aled Jones-like innocents when it came to being beaten up by the big, bad drug-cheat.
But you never know. After all, time wounds all heels. Groucho Marx said that. Some claim it for John Lennon but it was Groucho. And he’d have said it knowingly. The only Marxist ever worth following realised only too well how bogus dictums are.
Most heels don’t even get a scratch. But Armstrong has.
Maybe there are some out there who will object to Armstrong being described in such terms. He is after all a cancer survivor, an emotive achievement he has used for a considerable amount of good over the years but also employed as a sort of emotional blackmail. In America especially, his life-story allowed him to be portrayed as a near-secular saint, the blue-eyed son of apple-pie America getting ragged on by those darn “Yerpeens”. And yet it is the American authorities that have eventually caught up with him.