If Lance Armstrong is Guilty, What Do We Do With All the Good He's Done?Posted on by Michael Clyde (Michael Clyde)
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Bruce Springsteen once asked, "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true?" Well, what do we do when the dream comes true because it was all a lie? We may be close to having no choice but to discover that answer for ourselves thanks to Lance Armstrong. The road of accusation has been walked before: a source of questionable character makes accusations that the combination of Armstrong's goodwill and our own desire to still believe in heroes can easily bat down like a young child's instinctive need to defend the existence of Santa Claus. But this time, lurking beneath the 60 Minutes headline of 2004 gold medalist Tyler Hamilton's accusations of watching Armstrong take PED's, the potential smoking gun lingers and could lead to a conundrum we may not be ready to face.
George Hincapie is a man who Armstrong has referred to multiple times as a brother. Hincapie is also a man who 60 Minutes reports has told a federal grand jury he conversed with Armstrong over utilizing testosterone and providing one another EPO, an endurance booster. It's one thing to cast out a Floyd Landis and his "Sammy Sosa forgetting how to speak English in front of Congress" level of integrity; it's quite another to dismiss the words of someone the accused has looked upon as family. There is still doubt, of course, as to whether Armstrong did, in fact, cheat, but that doubt has been dissipating into "Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone" levels of belief in recent years, and 60 Minutes carries a bit more cache than the tabloids.
But here's what isn't in doubt: the Lance Armstrong Foundation and its Livestrong insignia have become a galvanizing force in cancer research and support for those diagnosed, recovering, and surviving the disease that has affected us all. Those yellow gel bracelets may have set off the asinine trend of every motivational product utilizing every color under the rainbow as a bracelet for their own financial gain, but it also cleared $25 million for cancer research at the cost of a dollar per item. Countless people were inspired to take up bike riding, eat better, go to the doctor more often, all resulting in the creation of an ever so slight dent to the growing obesity issue this country faces. In the modern era, where Michael Jordan proclaims Republicans buy sneakers too and Tiger Woods can't even get through Thanksgiving without connecting with his harem of lust, what Armstrong has helped accomplish as a result of winning 7 consecutive Tour de Frances has done nothing short of extend, if not outright save lives.
So how do we reconcile it if he turns out to be duplicitous? Pete Rose said he never bet on baseball...until he said he did. By comparison, Jose Canseco wasn't exactly lauded as baseball's Woodward and Bernstein upon release of Juiced, but he hasn't been wrong yet. Logic isn't Armstrong's friend anymore, either. Why does everyone come after him? Hincapie destroys the argument that it's because they're all jealous enemies. Armstrong's public persona may seem like he's a nice enough guy, but he did split with Sheryl Crow the same month she had breast cancer surgery in February 2006. And what sense does it make from an athletic competition perspective that the one person who claims to have never used performance enhancing drugs was so far above the other racers who admit to doing so that he won his sport's most grueling race seven straight times?
Near the end of the John Wayne/Jimmy Stewart film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a newspaper editor is informed of the truth behind a legendary tale and is asked if he will set the record straight. He responds, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." The Lance Armstrong legend appears to be in serious, if not permanent, jeopardy, leaving those who have been witness to its glorious results with a queasy contemplation: If the dream is a lie, should it have ever come true?