A Word About Lance
By now we’ve all seen Lance Armstrong’s Oprah interview, or clips of it, or heard it second hand from media outlets or friends. It’s not as if we didn’t know the story before he finally decided to fess up, but it is quite something else altogether to actually hear him admit it: I cheated. Having watched the interview in full, it was definitely cringe-worthy in parts. Oprah, predictably went pretty easy on him and he didn’t really do much to quell the notion that the only reason he’s coming out now is because he wants to be able to compete again. (The moment Oprah asked ‘why now?’ and Lance made it about his kids would be one of the cringe-worthy moments to which I refer).
Inches and inches have been written about this and I’m not sure I can add much more to it. One of the most powerful pieces I read last week was Nicole Cooke’s retirement statement which shed a much needed light on where this puts cycling as a sport, particularly for women.
I think this Lance issue raises some really interesting questions about the psyche of an athlete. I personally have started to think more about the notion of winning at all costs. I mean, there’s wanting a win badly, then there’s wanting to win so badly you’ll drug yourself up, discredit an entire sport, continually lie and cover it up, drag other people into your lies, sue anyone who tries to tell the truth and continue about your every day life as an athlete as if nothing is wrong. I think it’s difficult to deny at this point that there were many other riders on the Tour who also doped, many of whom have come forward and spoken about the pressure they felt to do so. This has also made me really think about peer pressure on the professional circuit. Obviously they all knew what they were doing was wrong, but there seems to have been this attitude of ‘if everyone is doing it, I have to do it to be on a level playing field’. Everyone has their flaws, of course but I guess I’m as guilty as everyone else of thinking of athletes as kind of super human. Knowing the mental strength my own physicality brings me, I find it really disheartening that professional athletes can be swayed that way, to partake in something illegal and immoral, but it’s important that it’s being told – we need to be able to understand that this happens and why it does.
Basically what I’m saying is that I kinda wish I was a sports psychologist right now. The mental part of this, what triggers those decisions in an athlete really fascinates me.
Obviously this whole debate has shed a light on professional athletes (particularly cyclists), but my thoughts turn to us regular street athletes. How do you guys feel about it? What do you think it means for us, if anything? Has it made you feel any differently about the way you train and compete? Do you think this is a scandal that purely effects the pros or is it something we should all be paying attention to?
Give me your thoughts people! What say ye?