How’s Lance to you now?

Jose Vicente ‘JV’ Araneta (The Freeman) - November 12, 2012 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - I have always looked two Lance Armstrong two ways- one, asone of the greatest a cycling champion and as an inspiration when my Mom was battling breast cancer. While these attributes can easily merge, the line between the two is very clear for me.

As I cyclist and as a fan, I considered Lance as the best of his generation. While he was definitely brash and most likely an a**hole as a boss, he also got the job done. As I have said before, I believed that he was using PED’s when he did it.What do I think of Lance Armstrong now when circumstantial evidence has shown us that he doped his way to his 7 Tour de France wins?

First of all, it wasn’t a shock to me. As I have said before, it was obvious that Lance just wasn’t winning the Tour de France with “pan y aqua”, or bread and water, a term used for riders who didn’t dope, alone. I knew that he was using PED’s, just like 99% of the peloton did in those years. The first 5-time Tour de France winner, Jacques Anquetil, had already said that you can’t win the Tour with mineral water alone, and this was during the 1960’s.

Unlike other sports, cycling’s heroes are mostly tragic figures. Marco Pantani, the great climber and a greater champion, who was convicted for using PED’s, can hardly be compared to Michael Jordan. Jordan is a respected figure but Pantanis passionately loved by the tifosis and has a race is named after him.  The same adulation is bestowed on Tom Simpson, who died from a cocktail of exhaustion, alcohol and amphetamines on the slopes of Mt. Ventoux in the 1967 TdF. Despite his “dirty” past, the TdF built a memorial of the Brit along the Ventoux.

But when it comes to Lance, why the vitriol? I think its because a lot of good folks felt betrayed by a person who survived cancer, used PED’s, made millions, dated stars, rubbed elbows with Bush and Obama, and along the way, won 7 TdF’s. Maybe it’s jealousy or maybe it’s his innate arrogance or his “win-and-take-no-prisoners” attitude to his perceived enemies.

As someone who felt the effects of cancer deeply, I never felt betrayed by Lance in any way. Yes, I bought his merchandise, I watched his races and I wore his yellow Livestrong braces but betrayed? No way!

From 1999 until my Mom passed away two years later, cycling was my escape from the gray world I was in. Engaging in a sport with a leading figure who beat cancer and who would then win the toughest cycling event in the world, it was impossible not to feel good, to be a inspired. Inside, I was hoping that my Mom would be like Lance and would beat the crap out of cancer and be whole again.The two years that he made my life better(my family, included), they can’t just easily be replaced by a sense of betrayal.

We all have differing opinions about the Texan like the blind men who had different opinion of what an elephant is. For me, the sport at a professional level is more of a good movie than anything else. I pluck the good lesson out and leave the rest behind. I don’t feel betrayed when there is no “Field of Dreams” out there.  Life goes on but the good memories always remain. (FREEMAN)

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