It’s not about the bike, it’s about the cheating

Photo: Guardian

I love people who beat the odds, especially those who take on cancer, kick where its cells multiply and bare their bottoms to it. It’s a horrible disease and has taken its toll on my friends and family, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

Right up there with the good guys was super-cyclist Lance Armstrong, what a fighter. He had cancer, he had secondary cancer, he beat them, by gum he did. Then he went on to win the Tour de France a gazillion times and, by his own testimony, free of performance-enhancing drugs. He swore blind that was the case, and was believed. Mostly. The French never thought he could be THAT good, of course they were right.

This week’s revelations that he not only cheated, but was the King of Cheats and bullied his team into cheating have left me disappointed, disgusted and feeling cheated by a cheat. After this wonderful year of sporting triumphs in the Olympics and Paralympics, the damning report from the United States Anti Doping Agency that Lance Armstrong was ‘at the heart of a sophisticated doping ring’ was a betrayal of all honest hard-working sportspeople everywhere.

In his autobiography It’s Not About the Bike, Armstrong talks about his battle with cancer, which was very real and very serious. But by his own testimony he’d ignored the warning signs of what started out as testicular cancer. Was it fear or embarrassment? I doubt it, this man has no fear, unless it is the fear of being uncovered as a cheat. Clearly he’s not easily embarrassed or he couldn’t have faced the world and denied again and again that he had never used drugs. So he left it and the cancer spread. His treatment was invasive and aggressive, in some countries, he would not have survived, in others that level of treatment would not be available to him. He was lucky, he even had some of his sperm frozen so his partner could conceive, she did by the way, though he left her.

It’s been a sad week for sport, someone who I admired and respected for his chutzpah has feet of clay.  It’s also been a sad week for those who admired and respected another idol, the howz-about-that-then self-styled philanthropist and fixer Jimmy Saville. He was uncovered as rather nasty little man. Shame on them both.

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