Say it ain’t so, Lance
He used to be my idol. I thought it was a miracle that he was able to come back after an intense bout with cancer and even pedal a bike. I mean, at one point the guy had a 70 percent chance of dying. Then he won what is arguably the most grueling sporting even in the world, the Tour de France, seven times. Almost immediately after his first victory, doping accusations started flying. Initially I brushed them off, as did most of the cycling community. Then, one by one, nearly every single opponent that stood atop the Tour de France podium with Lance Armstrong either tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs or was implicated in a major doping scandal. How was it possible that every single one of his rivals in every Tour was dirty but he was clean? Apparently, it wasn’t.By the time Lance and a couple teammates came to race the Nevada City Classic in 2009, which I also participated in, I had already made my mind up that he was cheating. Most of the 30,000 people who came to watch him probably would have vehemently disagreed with me at the time. The following year, Floyd Landis gave detailed personal accounts of Armstrong doping, but he was brushed off as a jealous liar who was just trying to sell a book. This year, two more of his former teammates and friends testified in front of a grand jury that they witnessed him injecting EPO and testosterone. At this point, if it is not blatantly obvious to even the most casual observer of the sport that Armstrong is dirty, then you are living in denial.The drug problem in cycling is much larger than just Lance Armstrong. But in my opinion, once he is brought down, many of the insiders associated with doping will fall as well. Then, hopefully the sport of cycling will be able to rebuild itself from the ground up. I will always admire the fact that Armstrong fought back from his deathbed and defeated cancer, and that his foundation has raised millions of dollars in the fight against the disease. But I think I’ll find a new idol.andamp;#8212; Team rider Nate Freed is the author of this week’s Marc Pro-Strava Racing column, Spoke n’ Word. Marc Pro-Strava Racing is a Truckee-based cycling team focused on racing and local bike advocacy. For more information, results and upcoming events, visit http://marcpro-strava.com.
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