I really want to stop writing about Lance Armstrong. I had actually vowed to leave the story alone after my last two blog posts, but then a few things happened to change my mind. The first was a story of the English town of Edenbridge that burned an effigy of Armstrong on November 5th as part of the celebration of Bonfire Night. I do not see anything wrong with this, but I might also be missing something as an American. We tend to enjoy public spectacle over here and we don’t put too much significance in it as long as it ends peacefully. I did find it very interesting that a town in England would care enough about the story to burn the effigy.
The second story that changed my mind about writing more on this subject was actually a tweet from Lance Armstrong. It was a picture of Armstrong laying on a couch under seven yellow jerseys. I don’t care that he still has the jerseys, and I am not sure that anyone can take them away from him. I don’t care that he still has them on display at his home either. That is Armstrong’s prerogative. I did find it interesting that the tweet came out after a relatively quiet time where Armstrong hasn’t been in the cycling news lately. The tweet was his way of getting attention, much like my two year old. If no one is talking about him, he will do something to get attention back on himself. The tweet has had the intended effect. Bicycling Magazine has the article on the tweet, and thousands of people have commented on Twitter, both in support and condemning the photo.
I believe that someone can tweet or write what they want, as well as burning someone in effigy. I couldn’t continue to write opinion pieces about the sport if I didn’t believe in that right. I also feel that we all have a right to only pay attention to what we are interested in. The longer we pay attention, the longer the story drags on. I am not saying that we don’t need to talk about doping, because we do. I am heartbroken that Jens Voigt had to write a column for Bicycling Magazine detailing how and why he DIDN’T dope (http://bicycling.com/blogs/hardlyserious/2012/10/30/turbulent-times/). I am annoyed that Bradley Wiggins was questioned during the Tour de France about doping. The allegation was that he was performing too well. I cheered when he exploded emotionally and defended himself and the sport. Yes there were problems in the past, but cyclists are among the most tested athletes in the world of sport. Testing procedures have been refined to catch what was once missed. The culture has changed and doping is no longer condoned.
I think we as cyclists are getting tired of this ongoing soap opera. Major League Baseball has gone through the same type of scandal. Baseball moved on and people accepted that. We need to move on as well. Cycling used to have a huge problem with doping, now cycling has a huge problem with Armstrong and the story of doping. He is refusing to go away despite a lifetime ban from cycling. All of us have the same problem because our friends and families ask us what happened and we tell them. The media can’t let Armstrong go. We need to do it for them. We need to focus on the positive strides that cycling has made, and the clean athletes that are performing amazing feats. As cyclists we need to remember that things have changed and be ambassadors for our sport.
We can’t make Armstrong move on. I hope he continues to help people with cancer, but I hope he does it somewhere else than the cycling world. We can’t make him stop tweeting photos of his jerseys, but we can stop paying attention. It is the attention he craves more than anything, and the attention is what he deserves to loose for what he has done to the sport. I am going to promise to never write about him again and do my best to ignore whatever he tries to do for attention. I want to do my small part in this. I hope others can join me in saying “Lance who?” when I am asked about him. I would rather talk about Wiggins, Voigt, or Tejay van Garderen. I want to talk about the positive future, not the negative past. I think it is time to move on. Please join me.