I found out about Lance Armstrong being stripped of his Tour De France titles the way I find out about most things nowadays: I opened up Twitter to a bunch of lame jokes and half-baked vitriol. Given the positive effect heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d had on the world, it seemed to me like Armstrong deserved better, perhaps a bit more reverence during his inevitable moment of public disgrace, but why should he be any different than Tiger Woods or anyone else?
Several years ago, when I became convinced the day would come when ArmstrongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s empire would eventually be torn down, I bristled at the thought of those whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve used him as an inspiration during their battles with cancer thinking theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d been worshipping a false idol. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d long suspected Armstrong hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been on the level about doping; I just preferred if that inconvenient truth never surfaced for the benefit of those who truly needed to believe someone like him truly existed.
Besides, I had my own image of Armstrong to reconcile.
For some time now, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been a huge supporter of Lance Armstrong. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve worn one of those yellow bracelets for six years Ã¢â‚¬â€œ long after it stopped being trendy Ã¢â‚¬â€œ because I truly believe in the things he stands for.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always been so awkward internally for me to suspect this whole time that he was on illegal performance enhancers during his times of greatest glory.
I just hope if thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the case, that nothing comes out during ace PED investigator Jeff NovitzkyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s upcoming investigation, ignited by Floyd LandisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ explosive accusations.
Too much is riding on it, and not just for Armstrong.
Floyd Mayweather messed with Manny Pacquiao for so long that he completely played himself.
The biggest surprise with the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather drug testing argument is that I actually at one time hoped this fight would come off without a hitch. I guess that plays into my desire to have a big fight happen for once with none of the nonsense and posturing that usually goes into this sport. But thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unrealistic.
Now donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get this twisted, I actually very much respect Derek Jeter. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an excellent baseball player, keeps his name off Page 6, does a lot of charity work and has a work ethic I admire.
But Jeter as Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year? Either it was a slow year, or that Ã¢â‚¬Å“awardÃ¢â‚¬Â is a sham.
And it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a slow year.
It’s no secret that Lance Armstrong is an extremely competitive person, not that that’s a bad thing. That is exactly why it’s hardly a stunner that Armstrong hasn’t been content after all to stand aside and support Astana teammate Alberto Contador during the Tour de France.
Does someone like Armstrong, who won seven Tours in a row, re-emerge from "retirement" to be anything other than The Man? Of course not, that’s not how it goes.
When Jordan came back to the Wizards, was he satisfied playing second fiddle to the younger players on the team to help them learn how to lead, maybe even coming off the bench if it was to help the team’s progress? Get real. Though Jordan’s body no longer allowed him to duplicate his former physical splendor, his mentality had not changed, and he conducted himself as such — at the expense of the team.
The difference with Armstrong is that he’s not much weaker than he was before, if at all. He’s still a virtuoso capable of controlling the action; Lance in the Alps is akin to Federer at Centre Court. And he knows it.
But then there’s the matter of Contador. When Lance returned to Astana, he was coming back to a team that featured the Tour winner from just two years ago. Contador was not initially pleased, intending to join another team, but he was contractually obligated to Astana. However, Armstrong said the right things. This is from their first press conference back in December: