So this week Lance Armstrong finally admitted that he'd been doping. Until not too long ago, I actually believed him when he said he had never taken performance-enhancing drugs. They had never proven anything, and I didn't know all that much about the sport, so I just...believed him.
Of course, I'm much more cynical about baseball players, as I'm a pretty big fan. I also thought that the use of steroids left physical signs. Anyone who thought Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds weren't doping was deluding themselves. There were physical signs that were easy to see...oversized shoulder and arm muscles and heads that looked too big for their bodies. There were also some strange mental/emotional things, not the least of which was an abhorrence of the media and reporters. They were grumpy, surly individuals who seemed like they were too good for everyone around them. It was, to me, obvious.
But Lance Armstrong didn't look like a bobble-head doll. He had muscles, but he was tall and lean and bony. He could be surly, but mostly only when people were asking about the doping. Over the years he appeared at many charity events and even created the LiveStrong organization, which has gone on to do amazing things for a lot of people. In my mind, he didn't fit the mold of an athletic doper.
And mostly, I think I was naive, and uninformed. I just didn't know a lot about biking, or the famous bikers that won races all over the world. I still don't know biking the way I am sure I will in the future. And even if he had not admitted his doping publicly, I think the mystique was broken months ago when he was stripped of his medals. And many many people have been disappointed. Despite the doping, Lance Armstrong did more for the sport of professional biking than any other single person. The only other thing I knew about biking was the 1979 movie Breaking Away, which portrayed biking as a brutal, arrogant sport.
That movie may not have been that far off.
I think I'll stick to riding the green spaces and riding to the coffee shop. Seems a whole lot safer.