Shit was getting real. I mean really real by 2001 with Lance. This was an era in my life when it seemed everything was unstoppable. Everything was firing around me perfectly...recently married, job escalating into the stratosphere and no chain on my bike as I learned how to really race. Plus, all the decades of fear people had over cancer could virtually be put to rest because we were watching someone who'd fought the good fight, beat it and was now laying waste to the European peloton.
Life was good.
We all had lived through the Festina affair in 98 and witnessed a balling Richard Virenque crying like a baby when his team was jettisoned from the Tour for being a collective of dopers.
But little did we know everyone was.
Even as the testing got better over the years and more bone-heads got nabbed, we could not take Lance (and by extension his heroic American team and teammates) off their well dusted and prized mantel. They were shining objects. Americans. Impossible for many American minds to allow themselves to connect the 'character' of a cheating, lying, whining, nefarious doper (yes, how we saw these strange Europeans...there I said it) from the visions of super heroes we were creating here in the U.S. battling on the roads in Europe.
You could almost see the capes flapping in the breeze from within the peloton.
Little did we know that big business was helping steer and certify a legend in the making. The Thomas Weisels of the world injecting monies to feed virtually anything this legend needed. The right teammates. The right equipment. The right medical programs.
We had to be able to compete right? Even Superman needs something to combat the Kryptonite flowing in the arteries of the Euros. So why not poison him with Kryptonite too and acclimatize him.
I've read all the threads from every angle. The tweets and FB posts from teammates who were there training with him to those that know he had an extra special engine. Conversely, I've read all the same media on those attacking him and desperately want to expose Lance for some reason. I can't instinctively say if it;s to better the sport, or to effectively put their own guilt to rest. A guilt I am sure that has been weighing on them and their very Puritanical American up-bringings. Up-bringings that can't have any of that. Or if you do, you don't get caught. Just like Wall Street, right?
It's time for this facade made of paper machet to collapse. It can not support the weight of the guilt, nor the weight of the trophies and medals our clean young riders are generating these last few years. In fact, it's completely unfair for Lance's Affair to consume all the attention, kudos and focus from our newest and brightest we are raising like a Black Hole sucking the gravity out of the universe. That is the greatest shame. It's a tabloid sidebar column at best. Stealing any opportunity for great press to be concentrated on those that deseve it.
You cheating fucks need to go away. Walk silently out the side door and close it behind you. Softly. We are giving you this opportunity. We as the clean and as parents and coaches who are trying to guide and focus our youth to do the right thing are giving you this opportunity. Right now. An opportunity to leave and allow us who care to move forward and re-build this sport we love right.
And make it beautiful again. Like we saw in Boulder this past weekend.
The buds of our tree of cycling are beginning to blossom again. We've got past the nuclear winter of fraud and can start to bask in the sun to let these newbies grow, compete, do their best with what they were given.