Disclaimer: I didn’t watch more than a few minutes of The Last Dance. I also am no fan of Michael Jordan. However, I was not really a huge fan of Lance Armstrong either
I watched the Lance Armstrong 30 for 30 the other night. I have always found him a polarizing figure. When he was obviously using PEs, it amazed me how many of his fans didn’t think he did. When he caught, the outrage amazed me as well. I mean, if you even just casually followed cycling (which I did at the time), it was pretty obvious that there was a huge doping culture and that if you were going to compete, this had become the most likely way you could achieve any kind of sustainable success.
Finding out Lance was doping was about as surprising as the paper classes in Chapel Hill. The data told you that the level of success was highly unlikely if done ethically.
But there were 2 things I always respected about Lance and the cycling culture: it’s the fearlessness and dedication to their craft. As someone who now cycles on a regular basis, there’s few things more thrilling than going over 20 miles an hour on a bike. It’s not unusual for me to hit 30 mph going down a hill. Even at that speed, you know if you fall, you are toast. You will probably survive, but it won’t be pretty. The professional cyclists to go over 50mph. Which brings us to the second point.
If you are willing to take this chance with your life every day on the bike, why would you be afraid of doing something that might hurt your body afterwards. If you have chosen this profession, is it surprising that some (maybe most) of these pros are doing what they can to compete?
For years, Lance denied doping. What’s worse, he viciously attacked those who had the audacity to attack him. But his story is similar to so many...he used to be relatively clean, but then, in order to compete, you have to up the ante.
I found his admissions unapologetic - which I strongly suspected he would be. Like MJ, his intense desire to win is more of a manifestation of a sociopathic personality trait than it is a virtuous behavior. However, in the public sphere, one is worshipped and lionized, the other is shunned and basically a pariah.