Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lance On Oprah, What Does It Mean?

Jan. 10, 2013

Today I am 194.0 pounds of rolling thunder.

Who among us hasn't laced up our shoes and gone for a run dreaming that we are a marathon champion running alone as the pack fades away and we race toward the glory of victory?

And who among us hasn't thought of climbing the Alps Lance Armstrong-style as we stood up on the pedals and climbed that big hill in the neighborhood or on a weekend loop with our friends? Just once, you think, "I'll glance over my shoulder and give Jan Ullrich "the look" and then race away as he sucks my fumes."

But those are the things of fantasy for most of us whose body mass index floats around the mid-20s and up and are not graced with super-human strength.

Now I've always been a true believer when it comes to Lance. I believed his body was touched by the athletic gods who let him do fantastic things as a rider, triathlete and runner. So I'd always taken the show-me approach when it came to his critics. I held onto these beliefs like a 7-year-old waiting up for Santa, but these days it has gotten almost impossibly difficult.

The Wall Street Journal today asks "What Lance Armstrong Wants FromOprah?"

Me, I'd like a little of that Oprah cash, but I'd settle for a mention of my blog on her television program.

Lance is going on Oprah next week apparently to air his side of the ongoing saga that is his life, which is deeply embroiled in a drama of performance-enhancing drug use among other unsavory accusations.

For me, there has always been a Lance bike star and a Lance human being. When people ask, "Are you a Lance fan?" My response has always been that he is a great athlete and an amateur human being in most respects.

Now I'll give him huge points for what he has done for the fight against cancer and the tremendous support he has given to individuals who suffer with the disease. Heck, I was one of the first to don a yellow Livestrong bracelet before it was somehow cool to have a little yellow band on your wrist.

And drugs or no drugs, winning seven Tours de France is beyond compare when you think about all the adversity that can come your way over a three-week bike race. Just think in your own life how a small setback in anything you have attempted could send things spiraling out of control. Now think of keeping a team of riders and your own fate under control while other teams set their primary sights on bringing you down.

I think we've all heard the stories of how you are either in the Lance camp all the way, or he has frozen you out. And I think it's always sad when families are broken apart, but it must be incredibly difficult to have a rock star father whose commitment to racing keeps you apart so much of the year.

So the WSJ said essentially that Lance built a superstar lifestyle filled with jet planes and celebrity pals. In light of the drug issues, Lance has in "plummeted back to earth." And when you fall from those heights, it sounds like the plummet can be brutal.

The WSJ quotes ESPN writer Don Van Natta Jr. who posted on Twitter, "You don't go on Oprah to confess. You go on Oprah to be forgiven." 

I think there are still hard-core Lance fans who want to believe. I've always worried when his denials were "I've never failed a drug test," and not "I did not use PEDs."

So forgive or don't forgive, that's very much an individual decision each of us will have to make. I say, what's most important is not to lose sight of the great things that the Livestrong Foundation has done in terms of raising awareness and raising money for a great cause.

So I'll be tuning in to watch Lance on Oprah as will many of you I'm sure.

That little voice inside of me, the 7-year-old true believer, will keep thinking "Say it isn't so Joe (Lance), say it isn't so."




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