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Patrick Hruby

Turn in Your Hero Card?

The Atlantic Sports Roundtable on USADA's Lance Armstrong report

The Atlantic online
The report is out, and it's ugly: more than 1,000 pages of eyewitness testimony painting Lance Armstrong as both participant and mastermind of an extensive cycling doping program, one that propelled him to international fame, anti-cancer crusaderdom and all seven of his Tour de France titles.

In this week's Atlantic Sports Roundtable, we ask: should Armstrong's hero status be revoked?

Hampton Stevens: ... the big Texan with a superhero's name, wearing red, white and blue, Lance dominated a quintessentially European sport at a time when anti-American sentiment in Europe was surging because of what another Texan was doing overseas. Lance was our glorious rebuttal. Borg-like, inexorable, yet charming. The guy had it all; enough glory for a thousand lifetimes, movie star looks, and an inspiring personal story that won him the adoration of millions beyond his sport. But it was all built on lies. Allegedly.

Guys, can anything makes this better? Rationalizations are always useful. "Everyone else does it" certainly applies in cycling. Or maybe Lance could just apologize without ever admitting he did anything wrong—the way baseball players and politicians do—then all would be forgiven ...

Patrick Hruby: ... there is one group of people Armstrong ought to apologize to. A group of people he ought to grovel before, supplicants-of-Zod-style. I'm speaking, of course, of all the people Armstrong and his highly-paid legal help viciously and self-righteously smeared, threatened and harassed to keep his coughallegedcough doping under wraps. Journalists. Teammates. His former personal assistant. His former masseuse. Armstrong didn't just use his power and influence inside and outside cycling to raise money for and awareness of anti-cancer efforts; he used to enforce a nasty code of ass-covering omerta.

Armstrong was a bully. Small and petty and vindictive and ugly. Plain and simple. I don't care about Armstrong's self-justifying refusal to ever give up on anything. I don't give a damn if helped him when bicycle races, or even if it helped save his life. It made him cruel, and it led him to abuse others for the awful crime of telling the truth. Besides, I hate bullies. Especially ones who take advantage of vulnerable people—cancer victims, fighting life or death battles and looking for inspiration—to wrap themselves in bishop's robes ...

Jake Simpson: ... Patrick, is that there is so much I disagree with in your post that I hardly know where to begin. Of course there are two Lance Armstrongs—there are two everybodys, more than two actually, because nobody can be pigeonholed into as small a box as you've created for Armstrong, as much as you wish it were so. You think the kids who were visited by Armstrong in the hospital, got a pick-me-up (during an experience no child should ever have to go through) and survived to tell the tale now care 10 years later that Armstrong did what every elite cyclist—Floyd Landis, Alberto Contador, I don't think I need to go on—did over the past 20 years? Spare me. And what about the additional funds raised by Armstrong to fight cancer, which we can all agree is a battle worth spending money on? I don't know what Armstrong did you personally to make you hate him with a vitriol usually reserved for dictators or Alex Rodriguez, but to suggest that everything about this man and his story is tainted is simply ludicrous.

Second of all, you buried the lede in your post. The story here is that once again, the federal government is spending an inordinate amount of time and money on post hoc moralizing that basically amounts to scapegoating the most prominent players who cheated ...

Read the full article at The Atlantic online