I am going to start with the conclusion today and then work to it.

Heroes are people like you and me and as a result they are imperfect. They make mistakes. They are shaded in gray.

Anyone who has been a parent knows this reality all to well. Remember when you were THE unquestionable source of all for your child? How they would ask questions and look up to you with total trust and belief? I remember trying to muddle my way as best as I could to be that, but knowing that in the end I could not live up to that. And then at some point the child realizes that you make mistakes, that you are not perfect, that you don’t know EVERYTHING. Shades.

The past couple of days have been a trial for the biking community. For many people Lance Armstrong is a hero. Look at what he has done. He had what was nearly terminal cancer. Fought it. Came back to ride at the highest level, and won seven TdF’s. Along the way he started Livestrong and has created in that a source of support for people who are suffering from cancer. He has touched millions of lives. And for that he is a hero.

Along the way we have learned that he is not perfect. Nope far from it. In the drive to be the best he violated the rules. He cheated. He did this at a time when that was the culture in bike racing. But irregardless, he cheated. And now he is paying the price for that.

I remember watching the TdF and seeing Lance race. I remember the stage with “the Look”. When he went to the front of the pack on a climb, looked back at his competitors, challenged them with his eyes, and ground them into the pavement. He won with panash. And to this day I believe that this is the way you SHOULD win a TdF. Forget the domestiques, forget the strategy. You should be able to go and grind your opponents into the pavement and make them understand that you are the best. Lance was my hero.

But along the way we have learned that Lance is not perfect. He is human. (I am still coming to terms with what those years of bike racing mean. Much like baseball during the steroids era, what do the home run records mean?)

We also learned throughout this whole time that others were cheating as well. And many many people are being impacted by what has happened. For example, Levi Leipheimer has received a 6 month suspension and was fired from his team. By all accounts Levi is a genuinely nice, good guy. But he too cheated. Shades.

I believe that people can redeem themselves. But they have to be honest with themselves and with all of us. I believe that if they do this, if they are truly honest, they become more than what they were.

I believe this because being human, having faults, is what makes this world an interesting place. Those faults help us to feel a connection to people (boy is it hard to connect with someone who is perfect they are so much better than I am). It’s what takes a relationship with your child from one of worship to one of real respect, connection and love. And that’s WAY better.


4 thoughts on “Heroes

  1. I’m trying to formulate my own post on the matter. I think my final conclusion is that these guys entered into a culture of cheating and became “trapped” within it. Now, I know someone could say: “Well, they could have just quit!” But let’s be fair, how many of us can just quit our jobs on principle? Sometimes it’s not that cut and dried. If it were my kids would be starving right now. My principles are compromised frequently in my job, though to be fair, it is more of an ideological conundrum than a legal one.

    Lance is still a hero. Levi is still a hero. If they doped they still beat dopers. They were (and are) still the best. This new reality doesn’t diminish my experience of last year’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Me and my kids were standing within high-fiving distance of Levi as he bombed down Johnson Road in Golden at 40 mph and I got a really good clear photo. My five year old got his autograph in Golden this year. He’s still a hero.

  2. Excellent post, again, Doug. One of these days I’ll rope you into writing a post for me.

    Anyway, I figured Lance was cheating for years now. Between all of the allegations, the connections with other dopers and doctors and the time-period, how could he not?

    We will never be able to put ourselves in his shoes, especially at that time period. I’m torn between him going on 60 minutes and doing a whole air it out bit, probably naming others as well and just not saying a thing and continuing on. Stepping down from LIVESTRONG was the right thing to do, as well as other companies dropping his contracts.

    LIVESTRONG’s continuing work should be the piece that makes amends.

  3. What really disturbs me about Lance right now is that he continues to deny it. I think he does need to come clean. I don’t think he needs to name names and tell all. But he does need to come clean. I think that if he did that he would find that people would accept what he did and move on. The denial right now is clouding.

    Yeah its complicated. Yeah there was pressure. It sounds from the report like he might have been part of the putting pressure on rather than part of the resistance that caved though.

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