Mind you, I didn't really start following racing until around 2003/2004, and that happened because Hubby got interested in the Tour De France, and that happened because Lance was starting to rack up that incredible number of wins. But for me it was never about Lance, except maybe in a negative way. The fawning by the commentators, ESPECIALLY Bob Roll was sick-making, but so much more especially because of how it became about Lance being an AMERICAN. Double, super, especially because these were the George W. Bush days, and Lance being a Texan got associated with Bush and his "you're with us or with you're with the terrorists" brand of Amurricanism.
I just hated Lance for being Lance. For being arrogant and obnoxious and having his "beat cancer and won TDF" story, completely over-shadow every single other interesting story in the sport. I rooted for Jan Ullrich SO MUCH. (Although I'll admit, I did RPS hate-ship them together as well.) Then I rooted for anyone and everyone who was against Lance, in the same way my father taught me to hate the Dallas Cowboys.
I think the last TDF win was the worst, with the press completely ignoring the other rider to get shots of Sheryl Crow with Lance's kids and celebrities like Robin Williams horning in to the commentator box to get a bit of shared glory. (Oh, speaking of the kids---I did read "It's Not About The Bike" where Lance devotes pages of gory detail to how awesome his wife Kristin is for going through hell to have HIS kids. Only we know he ditched Kristin for Sheryl and then dumped Sheryl when HER cancer got a little too real for him. Nice.)
Seriously, it was sick-making in the extreme. And then finally he was gone, only he couldn't stay gone. Even when he was really, most sincerely retired, every year the story was SOMEHOW still all about Lance.
Strangely enough, in all the time I was passionately and actively hating Lance Armstrong with the intensity I generally save for Republican politicians and certain repellent fictional characters, I was never really focused on what he had or hadn't been pumping into his bloodstream. I hated him, but never thought he was a cheater, although I think I pretty much assumed everyone was doing something.
I think only in the last year or so, when it was clear that USADA was on to SOMETHING, and when SO many people were naming names that I really perked up to the idea, and that was mostly because he just got more and more testy in the denials and the wing-nut brigade was more and more willing to leap to his defense. In other words, if you said Lance doped, it was only because you were a liberal and hated AMERICA and hated that Lance beat the Europeans, especially the French, at their own game. Mostly because of that attitude, I did get a bit excited when the story broke during the last TDF that a bunch of Lance's teammates had been called and did testify. They didn't name names, but the one I had to wonder about was George Hincapie.
To quote Lance in the Oprah interview, "George is the most credible voice in all of this."
Exactly. If George talked, then the jig was up, in a way that it wasn't with Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, etc. (I only found out about the Frankie and Betsy Andreu stuff when I saw the interview.)
If that's what it took to get Lance to say it out loud, then thank you George.
I watched the whole interview before I sat down to write this, because I wanted to respond to what Lance said in its entirety rather than just the soundbites or the Daily Show jokes.
I wish I felt more schadenfruede than I do. Maybe because it's too little too late and maybe cause as I said, for me, (to paraphrase a certain book title) "It's Not About The EPO." It's about being an arrogant prick who seemed to go out of his way to demean and demoralize people who wouldn't bow to the greatness of Lance or the Myth of Lance.
He certainly cops to a certain amount of that, acknowledging that he's a bully and the arrogance and being a jerk, but he's also clearly still defensive, still believes his best defense is "everybody did it" and didn't/won't/hasn't apologized to vast numbers of people who he acted maliciously towards. I also find it really hard to believe that if he felt he needed to dope for 7 wins, then why on earth he would do the come-back thinking he could win without it, or if he's just saying that to justify NOT winning on the comeback? I just don't know.
Hilariously, the wing-nut crowd has now been forced to back off and their current excuse is, "Oh, he's not really Texan, he's from Austin."
The new cycling season has started, and of course, it will once again be full of Lance-talk---I almost wonder if that was part of the timing. (I haven't seen any Tour Down Under coverage yet, but I imagine the topic's come up a bit.) I'd really like to know what Phil, Paul and Bobke have to say for themselves as this point. I'm wondering who from that era could stand up and say they didn't dope and whether any of them are the ones who would inherit the voided Yellow Jerseys.
Maybe it's bitchiness or piling on or maybe it's still well-deserved and it may be the last time I bother to say it, but if you've been on the Lance hate bandwagon as long as I have, please feel free to join me in a last, but ever so hearty, FUCK YOU to Lance Armstrong.