Last August when it came out Lance Armstrong had been doping, I figured the reaction from most people would be “well, whatever he took, it didn’t make hair grow out of his fingernails, and he did win all those races, and his resting heart rate is 34, so I’ll have what he’s having.”
But now the US anti-doping agency has released the dossier, where we read about Armstrong arranging for a motorcyclist dubbed “Motoman” to make drug deliveries during the Tour; Armstrong spreading out his pills on the bed and explaining how he had pills for 50 kilometers from the end, pills for 30 kilometers from the end, and on and on for 200 pages. And that’s just the summary.
It shows Armstrong to be a user, a trafficker, an habitual liar and just plain nasty. At one point he e-mails a friend: “You don’t know who you are dealing with, you don’t want to mess with me…I’ll make you pay.”
Author Malcolm Gladwell, who likes to write about the science behind human performance, took a charitable view of all this, telling ESPN there’s no reliable way to beat the cheaters any more, so just make it part of the sport:
If you’re always going to be one step behind the cheaters, maybe it’s just better off to incorporate cheating into your definition of the sport.
Make it like a Formula One Race. I can see it! Cyclists taking pit stops. The pit crew pokes a needle in each butt cheek, shoots pills down the throat, and refills the EPO thermos, and they’re back on the road in 30 seconds. Yuck.
Lance Armstrong is in his “I did not have sex with that woman” moment.
Whether he finally faces the truth and makes his 60 Minutes confession depends on whether his remaining supporters and the donors to his foundation can continue pretending there’s nothing wrong.