On What Lance Armstrong Ought to Say to the World

I am getting tired of all the condemnation of Lance Armstrong. To hear some people talk, one might think Armstrong is the only cyclist to ever use performance enhancing drugs (PED). That he lied about it is bad, yes, but then, he should not have had to lie about in the first place. And by that I mean, he should have been able to be open and honest about it. But people are afraid of PED, and so they made rules that said use of PED is prohibited. Which means Armstrong cheated. But what he did should not be cheating at all. That is the real problem here.

Here is what I wish Armstrong would call a press conference to tell the world:

“What I did might have been against the rules, but it was not wrong. And I was not alone. X number of other professional cyclists and athletes of all sorts do many thing, including using PED, to give themselves an edge over the competition. PED are just another tool in the toolbox of things to use to become a better competitor.

“The drive to be a better competitor is part of sports. It exists in all sports, and in schools and many businesses. Athletes look for tools to help them become stronger and faster and to have more endurance. Whether that is practicing longer and harder than the other guy, or using computers and technology to refine and hone physical training, it is done all the time in all sports. The use of PED is just another tool.

“Did I break the rules of the sport of professional cycling? Sure I did. But so have a lot of other people. I could name names, but I won’t. I have no desire to be a snitch. The argument we should be having is not about how horrible I am for using PED, but whether PED should be prohibited.

“Plenty of people get away with using PED all the time. Have you ever used caffeine to stay up late or all night so you could study for a test or finish a project for work or stay alert on a long drive? Then you used a performance enhancing drug. You did what I did. On a smaller scale, yes, but you still used a PED. So should your place of employment make rules that prohibit using caffeine? Should your college take back your degree if you used a PED?

“I know a lot of people are concerned that some how my use of PED sends a bad message to children. But our children are already using caffeine and Adderall and Ritalin and similar drugs to help them perform well in school. Should your child be denied his or her diploma if he or she used such PED to help them study better and pass tests? They are just using these drugs as tools to help them perform better. What I did is fundamentally no different.

“So I do not apologize for what I did. Certainly I am sorry for the effect these events have had on some people’s careers, but I refuse to apologize for trying to the best the best athlete and competitor that I could be. And that is all that I did.

“I did not sabotage the equipment of other cyclists. I did not do anything to impair the performance of other cyclists. I did not bribe or blackmail anyone into throwing the races. Had I done something like that, then all the vitriol that has been thrown my way would be deserved.

“However, I did not do such things and so to all those who are being close-minded and condemning me, I say you are the ones setting a bad example for children. Is there someone in the world who did something you do not like? Well then kiddies, being mean and nasty and close-minded about them is the way to go. That is the lesson you are giving our nation’s children. It is not a lesson of which you should be proud.

“I say again, I do not apologize for trying to the best the best athlete and competitor that I could be. That was my job as a professional cyclist. And I was a great cyclist. Which means I did my job well. So I have nothing for which I need to apologize. All those columnists and reporters and broadcasters waiting to condemn me, the ones who use caffeine and nicotine and other stimulants to enhance their performance in their jobs, they should consider apologizing to all of us for their false arrogance and smugness in attacking someone for doing something that should never have been against the rules in the first place.

“I know my words here will be controversial. Good. Getting people talking about this good. And it hopefully sends a message to our children that problems should be solved by discussion, not knee-jerk condemnations.

“That is all I have to say on the matter right now. Thank you for your time.”

I wish he would say that or something very like it. But, sadly, he won’t. He will apologize, and we will go on with our self-righteous fear of PED.

2 Responses to “On What Lance Armstrong Ought to Say to the World”

  1. Interesting perspective on this story.

    I believe that it is a question of character…

    Not a common trait in today’s society.


    • I agree it is a question of character. And if Lance Armstrong had been arguing for PED from the beginning, rather than suing people who told the truth that he used them, he would not be so widely seen as a selfish jerk. My point was not that Armstrong is a good guy, because he really is not. My point was that using PED should not be against the rules, and that the people who use them should say so.

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