So I feel a tiny bit dirty.
Most of that feeling stems from the fact I went on that charity ride with Armstrong in 2011 — paid my money — felt a bit “important” riding with the biggest legend of this sport. But the other half of that equation is that although I was aware there was a huge debate out there as to “did he or didn’t he?” — I somewhat chose to give him the benefit of the doubt or just believe whatever drugs he took: that was early on — maybe only in those crazy 90s — and that maybe only influenced the first few of his Tours.
In all honesty — when I started out riding bikes with some degree of seriousness I did so really, really not knowing about him or his epic feats. I probably knew his name, maybe that he was important, but I only understood his whole story just very gradually after.
And my first inklings of him were the chatter on the internet of his potential doping. I mostly took it to be internet gossip and weasels trying to create controversy and conspiracy. But then there was this one terribly convincing article I saw — which is lost to history — but that got me thinking. That and a 4Corners story around that time about how pathetic and hopelessly-behind anti-doping strategies in sport were.
So I had a few reservations when Armstrong came to town but I still rode that day and felt good and rated it as a bit of a highlight of my life when I came to write a list at the end of 2011.
A year and a bit later I saw Tyler Hamilton’s evidence and I was starting to crack and get convinced I needed to distance any feeling one way or another for Armstrong. He is now “Armstrong” — not “Lance”.
To be honest — Bike Snob and his pretty obvious support for Armstrong was a big influence.
Then the USADA investigation (and incredible summary) was upon us and I was unceremoniously yanked away from any fantasies that things weren’t as bad as they could be and utterly convinced and really, really appalled — not so much by the epic doping — but more by the allegations he controlled the situation and bullied his team-mates into taking drugs or else. He seemed ruthless and belligerent and really, really nasty.
Bike Snob has certainly toned down his “support” for Armstrong — but maybe he needs to atone too. I dunno. Maybe I have just misconstrued everything he says — his blog is frequently surreal in its comedic adventures. I shouldn’t take it so seriously.
So today was the big confession. I didn’t expect much but I admit — it was drama and good TV and I was hopelessly transfixed. I actually thought Oprah did OK. Of course I thought Armstrong was still in good form in his “PR” and consequently wasn’t entirely sincere. There were bits where he still had digs — at Tyler — I haven’t read his book and refusing to deal with his fucked up treatment of Betsy and that I never called her fat bit. HOLY SHIT.
That stuff was so shocking. I had no idea how he treated those poor women who stood up. This is Betsy’s reaction:
That was pretty heart-wrenching.
I think it is safe to say I have an even worse opinion of this person now than ever. And yes — I will be watching part 2 tomorrow.