Here is my short take on this topic:
I will admit that I was and will always be a fan of Lance Armstrong. I got into cycling based on reading his book and watching the Tour. I attended the Tour 4 times, and have had the chance to meet and ride with him on 2 occasions. Lance is not why I love my bike, why I love to ride, why I own a cycling tee shirt company. He simply opened my eyes to the sport and I became consumed by it.
I was and will be a fan of Tyler Hamilton as well. Regardless of what he took to increase performance he wasn't taking anything for the pain of the broken shoulder or c-bones he raced with. He is hard as nails and that is undeniable.
That said, I agree with those that bring Merckx into this. Perhaps The "Cannibal" is the JFK of cycling and Lance is Bill Clinton. Either way I have to ask what we gain with this deep dive into the late 90's and 2000's. We know EPO, transfusions etc were the norm in that time period. We know cyclists have doped for decades; the Mt. Rushmore of cycling is filled with those that have taken the needle as outlined in Bill Strickland's article Lance Armstong's End Game.
"To us, today, Eddy Merckx is the greatest cyclist who ever lived, not a fraud who tested positive for a stimulant while leading the 1969 Giro d'Italia and had his 1973 Giro di Lombardia win stripped for the same. Joop Zoetemelk is the hardman who started and finished 16 Tours—a record—and won one. He's not a reprobate who was caught doping at the 1979 Tour, received a paltry penalty of a 10-minute time addition, and maintained his second-place podium spot. Jacques Anquetil is the five-time Tour winner who in 1961 took the yellow jersey on Stage 1 and wore it all the way to Paris, not a boastful cheater who said, during a French television interview, "Leave me in peace—everybody takes dope." And Fausto Coppi is il campionissimo, the champion of champions, not an admitted doper who said on Italian television that he only took drugs when necessary—"which is nearly always."
Overall, Eddie and Lance have both done more good than bad, in and out of the sport. They are both human, both are great athletes and both have made mistakes like all of us. We might want perfection in our athletes, but I'm not sure why, since none of us are? The facts about Eddie don't change the way I feel when I watch "A Sunday in Hell", and neither will any revelations about Lance change the way I felt on those mountain stages of the Tours I attended.
The current state of doping in cycling is more testing, better testing, more positives, and more targeted testing. I would rather the US government take the tax dollars and put it into funding more Juniors testing since these kids are the future and in the most tempting position.
|When I say I believe Lance has done more good than bad, this is a personal example. He went out of his way to help me sending a message to my best friend's dying mother.|
I have to say, that I wish that 60 Minutes focused on how the cycling community is mourning the loss of Wouter Weylandt and how the entire global peloton has come together to pay respects and help his family. I was watching live when it happened, I was stunned and heart broken like every other cycling fan. What I have seen since that day, is a beautiful outpouring of emotion and good feeling from his Team, Sponsors, and fans. That is what is CURRENTLY happening in cycling and this is the story that I wish the "non" cycling masses would be told this Sunday.