Lance 3.0: Lay down your cudgels, please

May 26, 2013 § 57 Comments

Newsflash: Lance Armstrong has been stripped of…pretty much everything.

Tour titles? Gone.

Reputation? Gone.

Income stream from his cancer foundation? Gone.

Ability to compete in sanctioned athletic events and the attendant income? Gone.

Mansion in Austin? Gone.

Self-respect after not getting hugged by Oprah? Totally gone.

Bonus newsflash: It’s not over yet. The Justice Department has joined Floyd’s whistleblower suit…former sponsors are suing to get their money back…he will be paying for his transgressions for a long, long time.

I don’t know about you…

But I believe in redemption. Not the Shawshank kind — I believe in the kind of redemption that says once you’ve been punished for your transgressions according to rule and/or law, you’re redeemed.

This type of redemption may not mean that you’re a sterling moral character, or even that you admit guilt or feel sorry for what you’ve done. It just means that you broke the rule, got punished, and are now free to move on just like new. Something worthless has been exchanged for something useful and new. Just like a coupon.

When you murder someone, rape someone, abuse a child, defraud the elderly, skim from the company till, or run a red light, your redemption begins when you’ve served your time or paid your fine. Redemption means trading in the old for the new. It means a fresh start.

And in case you were wondering, along with the punishment fitting the crime, redemption is the premise upon which our entire legal system is built.

Redemption gives convicted felons the right to vote, the right to work, the right to have a passport, and the right to fully participate as citizens once they’ve served their time. Redemption doesn’t mean you have to like the sinner or the ex-con. It just means you can’t legally continue punishing and persecuting him.

Lance is no convicted felon. If you don’t think he’s been punished, see above. If you’re still harboring resentment and anger, that’s understandable. But he’s not going anywhere, and I’d suggest that there’s a better way to deal with him than continually bludgeoning him for his transgressions.

It’s an old concept, actually. It’s called forgiveness.

Cranking up the PR machine

Lance has recently begun doing what he does best: Going on the offensive. Whether it’s calling Patrick Brady and chatting with him for an hour or unblocking Lesli Cohen and a bunch of other diehard Lance opponents, it’s clear that he has a plan in place and has begun to execute it.

What’s the plan?

The plan is to get back in front of the sports media and build Lance 3.0. This newest iteration is simple. Lance 3.0 is a…

  1. Survivor.
  2. Family man.
  3. World class athlete.
  4. Friend.

What will Lance 3.0 do? He will sell something. What will he sell? I don’t know. But I do know this: He won’t be setting up a pyramid scheme to defraud Medicare, or a criminal syndicate to assassinate journalists. Most likely, he’s got a plan that will let him earn a living as a speaker/athlete/patient advocate.

Is that so bad? How many other people get out of prison and see their mission in life as one dedicated to helping others? Mind you, I don’t know that that’s his plan, but what does he have left? And why is it contemptible for him to try and rebuild a career that’s been destroyed through his own mistakes?

Ultimately, though, does it really matter what his end game is? No.

What matters is you

A group of local riders were climbing Latigo Canyon Road yesterday, and guess who they met at the top? Barry Bonds.

Remember him?

He’s the guy who was held up as one of the most evil and crooked baseball players of all time, a guy who stole Hank Aaron’s record on the strength of drugs and lies. Today he’s a slim and fit bicycle rider.

When the gang ran into him on Latigo, no one cringed, or cursed him, or called him a scumbag doper. Instead, they mugged for the camera and posted photos on Facebook.

Why?

First, of course, is star power…and we are here in LA. Second, though, is the fact that Barry has paid for what he did, and he didn’t even go on Oprah and confess. We know that he was caught, that he’s been punished, and that now he’s just a dude on a bike who used to hit a lot of home runs. Our lives are too short to keep hating on a guy who’s been punished to the full extent that the system demanded, particularly since all he seems to do now is pedal around, show up at the occasional crit, and generally act like a normal dude.

We’re done with his crime, and so is he. Now we just want to say hello and ride our bikes.

What about Lance?

Lance is different from Barry because the latter earned hundreds of millions of dollars and wisely invested them over the course of a long career. Barry doesn’t have to work.

Lance has five kids, huge ongoing legal bills, and a lot of years left to live. It’s impossible that he’s got anywhere near the pile that Barry is sitting on, or even anything close to it. Unlike Barry, Lance has gotta work. Rather than pulling up the drawbridge and living inside the fort, Lance has got to get out and mingle in order to rebuild.

For people getting out of prison and living in halfway houses, it’s called “You have to get a job.”

Lance showed us that pro cycling is a corrupt freak show. Danilo di Luca confirmed yesterday that it still is. Nibali, Wiggins, Dave Brailsford, Chris Froome, Pat McQuaid, Hein Verbruggen, and USA Cycling reaffirm that anyone who thinks the sport is clean isn’t thinking very hard.

If you hate Lance because he “ruined the sport,” maybe it’s time YOU moved on. The pro sport is rotten. If you follow it and still bury your head in the jocks of its stars, there’s a problem all right, and the problem is with you. If you can watch Nibali repeatedly hit the gas in the snow at the end of the most grueling stage of the most grueling stage race while his competition is rolling over and dying on the slopes, you’re the one who needs to analyze my modification of this old saw: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me over and over and over, and I’m a fucking moron who enjoys being fooled.”

As Billy Stone might put it, “And the dopers ruined your life as a Cat 4 masters athlete exactly how?”

Where’s it all going?

Now that Lance 1.0 and 2.0 have been airbrushed out of the history books, what’s wrong with giving 3.0 the same degree of redemption that should be afforded to axe murderers, tax cheats, misdemeanor DUI’s, and kids on grade probation in college? How is our agenda advanced by refusing to lay down arms, and instead insisting that he still be treated like the unrepentant, unpunished cheat that he was a year ago, when he’s repented and been punished?

Does it ennoble us to keep shrieking “Off with his head!” after his head has been offed, stuck on a pike, and paraded around his kids’ schoolyards? I think it does the opposite. It shows us up to be petty, vengeful dorks who actually think that pro cycling is so important it transcends common notions of justice and fair play.

Five years hence, ten years hence, Lance 3.0 will have been fully rebuilt. He’s that smart and a whole lot smarter, he’s that hard working, and he’s that motivated. He’s also got close to four million people on Twitter who want to know what he says and thinks, as well as five kids to feed, clothe, and put through college.

Most importantly, he’s not going anywhere. Do you want to be the wild-eyed crazy standing in the corner screaming, “But he doped! He cheated! He lied! He ruined my Cat 4 masters racing career!” long after he’s been punished and the rest of the world has moved on?

I don’t.

If the UCI and USA Cycling and WADA are done with his case, then I am, too. Keep clubbing at him if you want, but don’t expect me to join in. I’d rather go club some of the baby seals on next Tuesday’s NPR.

Tagged: , , , ,

§ 57 Responses to Lance 3.0: Lay down your cudgels, please

  • craig b. hummer says:

    It’s amazing how polarizing he is. I’m in Chattanooga covering USA Cycling Pro Nationals, and people still think you are saying ‘Voldemort’ when his name is mentioned…

    • Admin says:

      They were the same ones who used to wear yellow wristbands and deride you for saying that the pro peloton was corrupt.

  • Al Lakes says:

    But I’m still mad at the dude cos he helped turn a lot of cancer survivors into aholes, particularly the lady rider who screamed at me because I dared question his integrity (pre-confession). And my mom, survived cancer for 20 years…3 remissions…5 resections…destroyed liver. Fuk Lance..but ya, let the guy get on with his life. However, his apologists need to get a life.

  • I don’t care about pro racing all that much and I have never understood the vitriol aimed at Lance. I guess the deal with the Adreu’s sucked but for a nation to turn on the guy like he was the antichrist or something…I mean this is America, for chrissake! Isn’t lying and cheating and stealing and backstabbing the American Way?

    I mean, I live in Florida, where the stinky beginning of endless war in the Middle East was fomented by a very shady election involving dangling chads, whatever the hell those are…what was I talking about? OH! Also, it is, after all, BICYCLING. What are perhaps the silliest looking athletes in all of sport dressed like homosexual aliens on crack. Who cares if they’re on drugs or not?

    Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Wanker, I’m FOR you guys. If I could lose about fifty pounds maybe I would even ride around dressed that way. Maybe.

    Fomented. I used fomented in a sentence.

    I say we’re hanging the wrong Texan and when will the war tribunals form so he can be punished and start his remission or whatever you call it. You know, the mountain bike guy, not Lance.

    Glad I was able to clear this up.

    tj

    • Admin says:

      Fricking most awesome line ever written about this silly soap opera: “We’re hanging the wrong Texan.”

      Hats off, man.

  • James says:

    You really think Nibali is doping?
    I missed stage 20, was he really that unnaturally dominant?

    • Admin says:

      Pan y agua, baby, all the way.

    • Sidamo says:

      Yep, he dominated the guy who decided to ride 6 weeks before the race and the other guy suddenly found he was a team leader because his real team leader couldn’t descend and went home with a cold.

      But hey, it’s drugs all the way down…

      As for Lance, I don’t really care what happens to him. The old saw is ‘be kind to people on the way up as you may need them on the way down.’ Lance burned a lot of people on the way up. Payback’s a bitch.

  • Liz says:

    OMG! I knew I liked you but now I love you. I’ll dedicate my trudge up Col Aubisque tomorrow to you and Lance and my mom and my old lady bad ass self and my tireless and ever patient girlfriend of 20 years!

  • Brian in VA says:

    Hanging the wrong Texan, indeed.

    Well said, WM.

  • Toronto says:

    Lance talked to Patrick for an hour? Really? Nice.

  • chester says:

    redemption starts after he at least says sorry to all the people he trashed for calling his shit- like the soigneur he went after and the wrench who had to move to Australia to get a bike industry job.

  • Murray says:

    Look, I’m all for redemption as a theory and in a 3.0 but the guy is not even sorry he did what he did. He’s only sorry he got caught. The people he screwed wont accept redemption as a next step until he owns his guilt. Should “fans” care at a level equal to his victims, no.
    However I’m all for integrity, and that means manning up to your failings and taking full responsibility for them. That’s a very important step for me. That’s why people earn a second chance and deserve one.
    So I’d sum it all up as a lesson in perspective.
    As for the other Texan, well I’d say his crimes make LA look like a petty shoplifter. Our outrage should be measured on a larger scale.
    Relativity matters but not when it comes to integrity in my book.
    You either have it or you don’t.

  • BAR says:

    This was a very kind post. Your nobility is showing, WM. BAR

  • Hell I like dissonance.

  • Rob says:

    Barry is now a roadie? And slim? Where can I see those pics?

    • Admin says:

      Way old news…he showed up sleek two years ago at the LAX Circuit Race. The other day he was out climbing on his McLaren Specialized. Scrolled down my news feed but couldn’t find the pic…

  • Well argued and beautifully written, as ever, Mr Wanker.

    BUT…..

    You do know that Lance wouldn’t cross the street to piss on you, even if your trousers were on fire, don’t you?

  • William Daly says:

    I just wish Lance would move on and leave the public limelight for good (wishful thinking, I know). I am tired of seeing him, hearing about him, etc. He had his 15 minutes of fame and then some. Let’s turn our focus to the next generation of great young riders and close the book on this era of cycling.

  • Vashek says:

    Good points, however, few important ones are missing; for example, in regular court process, you have redemption after jury/judge verdict and then punishment. Here, what we’ve got from USADA is none of that: due process questionable, statute of limitations not obeyed, punishment so draconian that it doesn’t fit the crime and practically barres any redemption in sports. Can a redemption even start if those issues aren’t addressed by sport commentators, media? What USADA did was to create this artificial marketing spin of “clean” sports at the cost of one athlete, who was a symbol of winning in adverse circumstances. Not clean enough for sport authorities. But since they themselves got it wrong, it means their “clean” is really phony, inflated, and inconvenient issue to talk about.

  • No cudgels here in Boulder, Co. I was initially disappointed but I don’t like the pile-on/mob-rule that seems to be fueling this drive for retribution.

    For the people Lance truly screwed (Emma O’Reilly, Andreu’s), I hope they gain back some of what they have lost.

    For the rest of us, I guess we can join you clubbing baby seals :-)

  • Jeff Haas says:

    Please read this Seth and tell me why you wrote this piece:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2013/05/27/for-armstrong-forgiveness-is-not-saying-sorry/2364137/

    I have always enjoyed your posts but this one just doesn’t make sense to me. It seems things have changed since you took the break and erased all the old posts. This almost sounds like closing arguments for a jury trial.

    • Vashek says:

      I read that piece, nothing really new there, the old blame game including Betsy; so, some people can’t get over it and that is really the point of this article here. I think, negative emotions is something we like to hoard ’cause those keep us in a false conviction that we’re right. And if you notice, negative opinions ab Armstrong are repeated over and over again; why?, ’cause otherwise you’d have to abandon our negativity, let go of anger, but anger is such strong force, you don’t want to let it go. Lance Armstrong stepped on few toes but it was though competition, his opponents were not exactly saints either.

    • Admin says:

      I’ve explained myself, carefully, with the best words I could find. I’m responsible for what I say, but not for how it’s received.

      • Vashek says:

        I agree, and this article is something I support; nonetheless, we also need to look carefully how Armstrong case was handled by sports authorities; there are several issues that need to examined, revisited, anti-doping dogma gaining i strength is really a big shift in public perception, more severe, forgive it not, blame one scapegoat, attitude; so, that negativity, duplicity, need to be exposed before we can truly move on.

      • Admin says:

        I’m not trying to be mean, but you sound like a complete idiot.

  • Ice41000 says:

    His redemption is possible only after he himself repent. He didn’t.
    All he did was damage control thru half lies and half truths.
    He should apologize personally to people whose careers and lives he ruined. He didn’t.
    So, eff him.

  • Hey Admin (is that Arabic?) I actually addressed this in a post well over a year ago…might I link to it here? I could use the boost in readership and interestingly enough feelings seemed, even then, to reflect those here on your mighty site. And for what it’s worth, I would definitely piss on you if I ever saw you on fire on the side of the road. Then steal your bike…

    as-salamu alaykum,
    tj

  • Everybody listen up: from time to time mortal man is confronted with the horrid dilemma of recognizing that, while they themselves may be here today and gone tomorrow, there are those that occasionally rise up amongst us that are not like we are; they are more. They are far more indeed and if need be, they will sacrifice themselves on the fires of public opinion and they will turn over their mortalness and strive…strive…fight for whatever summit calls to them and in this pursuit perhaps, maybe, they will transgress the limits we mortals put upon ourselves but one thing stands clear: Lance Fucking Armstrong won the Tour seven times before he got caught doing it and those skinny little rascals are still doping and any little bitch who thinks they can steal from him the smell of the air in those mountains, pedaling way out in front of the pack; knowing that, doped to the gills and not dead from cancer, later that night he will be boning Sheryl Crow or all six of the Thompson Twins or whatever little skanks he otherwise deigns to screw…

    That my friends is one-ball upmanship and I, for one, would take any amout of PhD’s or whatever other inebriants required to for even one day rock in that world.

    Or maybe not. I’m old now and possessed of little more than my dwindling honor and my ability to pedal slowly through these Elysium Fields of the days of my glory. The air around here is humid and thick but I think about Lance; I think about high mountain passes and going really fast and alive on a bicycle and I am sad to know that hatred is an overrulling human way of doing business and yet: that’s who we are.

    Here today and gone tomorrow. Angry, thwarted, forever in search of a scapegoat. What Lance did was ride. Fast and terribly furious and with a vengeful and all-consuming monomania that has only before been ascribed to a fictional character named Ahab. The Tour was his White Whale and fuck the lot of ya if you think he cares one whit for your condemnation: Lance Fucking Armstrong has smelled the rarified air of the high country, a place you will never go; it is we the angry villagers who are the guilty ones, not Lance. It is us, the mortals.

  • Angela says:

    Exceptionally good quote: “I’m responsible for what I say, but not for how it’s received.”
    I love this post.

  • Whore Category says:

    I enjoy your blog and think you’re a good writer. But, on the subject of Armstrong, ugh, you are such a jock sniffer.
    Love your straw man defense.
    1. Redemption does not mean the pedophile is allowed back in the day care. He can earn a living somewhere else.
    2. Armstrong has not served any “time” at all. He jumped immediately right back into the fray. Your ejaculations on his behalf are 2-6 years premature, in my opinion.
    3. He did not lose his mansion. He flipped it and purchased another, presumably in a trust, or as an exercise in asset protection under the Texas home/castle provision.
    4. Poor poor pitiful Armstrong, it’s about the kids, he deserves to be able to support them… He likely has more money than you will earn in your lifetime by a factor of 5-10. Again, you are premature by 2-6 years.
    5. Bonds is not trying to suckle at the breast of baseball or any other sport. He left baseball behind: he banished himself. Recreational cycling for him does look like a form of redemption; he’s getting healthy and shedding his roid-fueled former self, in obscurity. (Oh but it’s different for “Lance”: compared to Bonds he’s a homeless man with a family to support…hahaha)
    6. So now you’re going to be the heroic broker of his redemption. Makes sense. You guys go way back. You were the first to recognize the talent of your fellow homie way back when. We’re pumped that you are still on a first name basis with your bud. For the rest of us he is not “Lance”. That would just be encouraging a brand-building exercise for the media whore that he is.

    It’s tough for me to say all this to you, but someone has to be that guy. FFS, take off the tri bars before you ever post another word that mentions his name. And I say all this with a smile.

    [Just realized it's probably not fair to post this without some context. I'm not a local who shares your group rides; I'm a reader who appreciates your work.]

    • Admin says:

      Some folks gotta keep their hate on. Wears me out, though, so I’m passing the baton to you. You’re angry enough and tap the keyboard with righteousness. But you may find that these grudges get heavy after a while, and one day you just want to wake up and put them down. Or they put you down.

      I called him out when you were still wearing yellow wristbands and jerking off to the 7-set Collectors’ DVD Edition. He’s been stripped and admitted to doping and that’s enough for me.

      And if the worst anyone ever says about me is that I forgave an old friend, I’ll have lived a good life indeed.

      • marcspivey says:

        Nice return there, McEnroe. This here post has got some legs.

      • Whore Category says:

        You’re probably right. But my “hate on” is not the born again bracelet variety, it’s the 1999 edition. I’ll probably come around to your way of thinking in 2-6 years, and I promise I won’t renew the judgment against him then, even if he dodges collection, so to speak.

        In the meantime, I stand by the points I made about him, but not the inferences about you. They were intended to be in the spirit of your “that guy” article, and I posted in appreciation of your work. But they don’t read that way. The debatable merits of my post aren’t worth it in my opinion, so I’d appreciate it if you would delete my post, or at the very least, add this as a post script. Cheers

  • Graeme says:

    Sounds like the old buddy system in action to me reading this. Once the man has admitted and apologised (minimum) for the way he went after people and ended careers of people who weren’t taking drugs or anything else, they were making a living and he ended it for them, in a sport they worked hard for, for years.
    How can you say that he should be allowed to make a living in the sport? He ruined that for anyone that dared to speak out against him, oh and all of them have been proven right by the man himself now haven’t they? No apologies, no financial recompense, nothing! Once the man has atoned for his sins to others then let him move on….to walmart or somewhere else in obscurity. He can still earn a living there, plenty of other people manage it ok don’t they?
    This is like reading the lets kiss Lance’s arse fanpage or sommat, is he your neighbour, scared of “the look” coming your way.
    Let him get on with his life and disappear into obscurity, it’ll be a long time until he’s as skint as any of us won’t it? And if not, who’s fault will it be eh?
    Stop kissing his arse, let him start to put things right and then maybe people will be able to stop having a go all the time but the facts are that he ruined people’s lives and incomes, went well out of his way to be threatening, violent and all the rest of it and he hasn’t apologised once to any of these people that I’ve heard anywhere, when he has it’ll be a start but until then, fuck him.
    No one really cares about the doping, most cyclists accept everyone at that time was at it, its all the rest of it that needs to be put right before he can move on and be accepted once again, or am I wrong?
    I can see your reply now though, he’s wonderful, leave him alone…..boring, he didn’t with anyone else did he?
    Oh and one more thought on everyone’s lips, what’s he got up his sleeve to save his own ass eh? Bet there’s a reason he hasn’t admitted everything and put it right, and it’ll be to his benefit not everyone else’s you can bet that.

    • Admin says:

      I love repeating myself. So I’ll do it for you, since you’ve taken the time to bludgeon me about the head.

      Oh, wait, no, I won’t.

      Peace out.

  • […] Lance 3.0: Lay down your cudgels, please | Cycling in the South Bay: If you hate Lance because he “ruined the sport,” maybe it’s time YOU moved on. The pro sport is rotten. If you follow it and still bury your head in the jocks of its stars, there’s a problem all right, and the problem is with you. If you can watch Nibali repeatedly hit the gas in the snow at the end of the most grueling stage of the most grueling stage race while his competition is rolling over and dying on the slopes, you’re the one who needs to analyze my modification of this old saw: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me over and over and over, and I’m a f***ing moron who enjoys being fooled.” […]

  • leo_d says:

    appears Lance donated $1000 to the Chris Cono fund:

    http://www.gofundme.com/32wvko

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