17 January 2013

Cycling is in the News Big Time

A time to broaden our small world of cycling
The interesting point of having the topic of Lance Armstrong and the sport of cycling move outside of the usual cycling circle of journalists and bloggers, is that we get to read the well written words of others looking from the outside in. I hope you have been keeping up with articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Telegraph, and other local and national newspapers. Their insight is helping to expand and expose the world of cycling beyond our regular cycling news sources, those sources which have often been intimidated into silence over the years. The infusion of fresh thought is greatly needed.

Being a cycling journalist, over the past fifteen years, could not have been easy. It is tough to try to hold onto a job while facing moral decisions. Access is everything in journalism, more important than exposing the truth I fear. I remember months (or was it years) ago I wrote a honest piece about what I believed was the writing on the wall of the impending fall of Armstrong (I believed he would be found legally guilty of perjury and might do jail time). My own father was so upset with me.

How could I speak out against a man who had done such good? I had family members struggling against cancer. How could I dare to speak up against him when Lance had "never failed a test"? I realized that some people would simply get very upset over the topic. For families who had been touched with cancer (more like hammered, and mine has) Armstrong was a spiritual leader, a sign of hope and strength. I learned to treat it like a political party preference, it was best not to discuss the topic of Armstrong's doping. 

Armstrong used his cancer leverage to shield his doping lies

According to the CDC, "Each year globally, 12.7 million people learn they have cancer, and 7.6 million people die from the disease. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease; it kills more than half a million Americans every year." CDC's Interactive Cancer Atlas (InCA). According to the National Cancer Institute, among the US population, "It is estimated that 1,638,910 men and women (848,170 men and 790,740 women) will be diagnosed with and 577,190 men and women will die of cancer of all sites in 2012."

These are shocking figures, but my point is this - Lance Armstrong is not the only person to have been inflicted with and survived cancer. The disease affects millions every day. Each one of them a hero for triumphing through their fear and suffering. Cancer is a terrible enemy and deserves to have an honest face to represent the battle. I appreciate what Lance Armstrong tried to do, and none-other had the platform he was given, he could have done more than good, he could have done great. But Lance Armstrong's time is over. A disease as horrible as cancer does not need dishonesty.

This is a unique time when excellent writers are writing about cycling. The sport is in the headlines.

I realize in devouring so many of the articles lately, that man, the best in the biz sure can write! At this point we need fresh ideas, new words, new actions, because I believe the inside of this sport is about as dirty as it gets. Spring cleaning is needed. 
I like these words:
"We likely will not have a definitive answer to most of these questions at the conclusion of the interview. We might have clues, but the truth will lie in gray areas that will become clearer as Armstrong carries this burden for the rest of his life. Apologies are promises to change. Like promises, we cannot judge them fully in the moments they are spoken. Wrongdoers need time to search for the deepest values that orient their lives and to begin rebuilding their futures with habits that honor those principles. Although it may not make for good television, this sort of persistent growth creates good people. Moral development does not occur within a news cycle." By Nick Smith in the Wall Street Journal

I like this reaction:
"I love a good myth. (So did those guys in that bar. They ended up acknowledging the magnitude of Armstrong’s lies, but had a tough time walking away from them, though, like me, they eventually did.) And I should say, as I have here, here, and here, that I bought it all for many years, and no doubt hell also hath no fury like that of a gullible, humiliated fanboy." By Michael Specter in the New York Times 

I am happy to see possible changes. Meanwhile I will be out pedaling my bike, and watching races in Australia and Louisville, Kentucky. Because riding a bicycle is still an excellent thing to do.  

Again, if you are interested in watching the Oprah Winfrey interview of Lance Armstrong tonight, links can be found on my post from yesterday: The Interview