athletes · cycling · training

Spin Cycle: Armstrong, Doping, and the Lies He Told

Written by Sam B, for Western’s university newspaper, Western News.  It’s in the Jan 24, 2013 issue. And damn, I wish they’d used my cycling helmet photo! But they do have a great graphic to go with the story. Flashy, bright yellow (of course) and worth looking at.

“As a philosopher whose main area of research is ethics, and as a cyclist, I’m saddened, angered, and intellectually puzzled by Lance Armstrong’s behaviour and recent confession. Like many people I’ve followed his career closely. It’s a compelling saga, triathlete turned Tour de France champion seven times over, with a life threatening battle with cancer along the way. In the past, I believed Lance Armstrong when he said he was clean, when time after time he denied accusations of doping, and when he said he was the victim of overzealous investigating by cycling officials.

But what now? Now that he’s confessed, how should we feel about Armstrong’s record including his use of banned performance enhancing drugs? Let’s set my personal sense of betrayal aside and consider the ethics involved…”

You can read the rest on their website here.

3 thoughts on “Spin Cycle: Armstrong, Doping, and the Lies He Told

  1. I wonder to what extent Lance Armstrong like Tiger Woods has an array of professional personnel who deal with all public relations matters including litigation, paid for in large part by his sponsors to protect and maintain their “profit centre”. If so, does that exonerate Armstrong in any way? Probably not. But it certainly adds to the dimensions of the problem and reduces the image of Armstrong as some evil bully conducting every move made on his behalf. I cannot comment on Armstrong’s character, just as I cannot comment on the character of any celebrity. I don’t know him. Oprah doesn’t know him either. His character might be despicable; there is just no way for me to know. I dislike the “witch hunt” for him because it invites the suggestion that he personally orchestrated every attack on others made, and that we can judge his actual character – in the same false manner in which Oprah with her distant empty gazes lets us know how caring and thoughtful a person she really is. Isn’t that what “celebrity fixation” is all about – telling us that we can truly know Robert Downie Jr. by seeing him speak on Ellen? I don’t disagree with a word you say, Sam. What’s been done had to be done. If your students are found cheating, they must face severe penalties for so doing. But I saw Bill Maher on television last night. He put up a picture of Lance Armstrong and said he couldn’t care less about what’s being said about him unless we discover he did something like drop a bomb of some foreign nation. He then put up a picture of Oprah, and said if all of us have to now confess our worst sins to Oprah, she should start wearing the outfit of a Catholic priest and start having sex with underage boys. I howled, and admittedly, felt a little smug and self-satisfied – allowing the celebrity status of Bill Maher to add some weight to my position on the subject.

  2. I have read the “Lance article” as posted by Samantha Brennan in the Western News. “Sam” has made some good points, and has caused us to reflect upon this inordinate situation. However, I do feel a need to respond to such, given that I too- am an amateur cyclist as well as a baseball and track participant and fan, who shares the beliefs surrounding the need for integrity in all sports, whether at the amateur or professional levels. I am 67 yrs of age and have been principal of schools both here in Canada- as well as in 5 other countries. Nevertheless, the longer I have been around- the more I realize how little I know.

    First of all- I need to state that it is perhaps the case that the IOC ( and other governing bodies) made a grave error, not really too many years ago, in allowing “paid, professional” athletes – rather than only bona fide amateurs, to compete in both the World Olympics, and other similar high profile events such as World Hockey , and the Tour de France etc. This huge change and perspective opened huge doors for possible cheating – due to many many potential $$$$$ and sponsorship endorsement earnings. This decision in my opinion, has become the greatest overall catalyst for what is and has gone wrong – throughout professional and even amateur sports. The IOC founders amust have ben far more wise that we have ever thought.

    Take note of Ben Johnson, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemons, Marion Jones, Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton, and many many others.

    Lance Armstrong has become the icon focus for the cycling doping. Rarely do I ever hear of the other 120 cyclists ( or more) who also participated in such an encompassing drug culture. Armstrong gets strung up now for many understandable reasons, yet he was simply caught up in a cheating culture – prevalent within professional cycling racing over many many years. The mantra was simply “don’t get caught”. It is even possible that some of the drug testing officials may have even been somewhat complicit in all of this, since they too benefited from such lucrative notoriety – as instigated by Armstrong’s whole life story and then 7 Tour victories? How is it that over the 7 years- these drug agencies were not ever once, able to detect Lance ? Do the readers not realize that the whole set of industries supporting these TOURS, were able to make huge amounts of $$$ for many many ancillary agencies, such as advertisers, networks, sponsorships, equipment manufacturers, etc etc . I am sure that you do . Do any of the readers here know what you have to pay now, for a brand of bike that Lance rode in any particular Tour?

    Lance Armstrong made little money from his 7 Tour prizes. Ninety % of his fortune has come from endorsements. What does this say about companies and/or corporations in our cultures and society- who will pay a male athlete in this case, to pedal a bike up and down some mountains successfully, some 10 million dollars or more – per sponsorship ??? I believe this to be reflective of our culture’s continuing shallowness and insidious obsession with hero worship, celebrity, capitalistic profit at all costs, and winner take all philosophies.Have we not set these athletes up for failure ? They are simply human beings like you and I – not demi-gods ! When shall we learn to stop placing these kinds of individuals upon unearned pedestals- with moral terpitudes beyond even Mother Teresa?

    The reason is that whether it is Paris Hilton, Lance Armstrong, Kim Kardashian, this Duchess or that Duchess, etc etc , the MEDIA makes huge $$$$ by creating bankable “persons”, by which they can sell either advertising time, or newspapers, magazines, or “clicks” on any particular web page. Advertising space costs on a webpage ( yahoo home page for example) , are now determined by the amount of ‘hits’ received the previous week or month. This is much like the Neilson ratings for selling 30 seconds of advert time on some particular network. A story like Lance, was gold and is still golden. The media eats this up and feeds it out to its gullible readers like candy to little kids. Just as the rabble sat high in the stands of the Roman Colisseum wanting and chanting for more blood, so too do we eat this media stuff up. It is mindless, yet ultimately may be significantly causal in terms of inviting a cheating culture- since it seems to be that it is only by coming in first, that huge rewards are paid out . It is all about hype, marketing, and huge endorsement dollars. Oprah made a small fortune in getting the “Lance confession”.

    So therefore, I canot entirely blame the athletes. I think that much of the blame for such lack of sportspersonship, lies in many many areas of our superficial culture and society. We rarely reward the true heros and heroines – those whose accomplishments far surpass a bunch of guys pedalling their bicycles.

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