Lance Armstrong talks to Oprah Winfrey during an interview that aired on Jan. 17 and 18.
Lance Armstrong shoved himself back into the spotlight recently in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde on the eve of this year's Tour de France bicycle race.
Armstrong's scandal has affected cycling in this country. We learned that the amount of drug use in the sport is far beyond what we imagined and can only hope the scandal will produce more honest bike racing in the future.
But Armstrong insults the entire sport by suggesting how much doping is still going on.
Obviously, during the Armstrong era, doping was rampant. And whether he did it more or less than other cyclists or teams at the time is beside the point. What I found most disturbing about his actions was the filing of lawsuits against his early accusers. This behavior clearly reveals him as an out-of-touch and lost individual.
Of course, Armstrong was the strongest, most strategic competitor ever to roll two wheels, but you can hardly admire such a person when you realize how he rolled over his team members, as well as his competitors.
Some people are optimistic the sport will survive the damage Armstrong has done to it.
Peter Crowe, a longtime and well-known local cyclist commented, "Armstrong has contributed so much to the sport but part under false pretense by cheating to get what he has achieved. It appears as though many of his competitors had done the same. Hopefully, in the future, this will continue to clean up the sport of cycling on the professional level.
"Personally I love cycling and will continue riding and competing. It still is something anyone can enjoy. Wisconsin has a huge cycling community, with rides, tours and races for any skill level, which is exciting for the future of the sport for all of us."
But to many, this American action figure has tremendously let us down.
Jim Youngwirth, a Fox Cities Triathlon Club member, said, "People are trying to paint a picture with all of this that the end justifies the means. As a cancer survivor, he was an inspiration as a champion. But then it all completely came crashing down with the cheating admission.
"People need to be inspired by people like Scott Rigsby, amputee triathlete, who overcome handicaps and then do things to truly glorify God. Not people like Lance Armstrong, who do things to glorify themselves and, if it inspires people along the way, all the better."
Appleton's David Kay, an elite cyclist for the Oshkosh Corporation team, offered a unique, possible option that could help cycling avoid future scandal.
"The use of race radios should be reduced in professional cycling," he said. "I would rather see the tactical decision-making occur in the peloton and not in the team car. The team director in the car has a much better tactical understanding of the race than the rider in today's racing, which means that, to a certain extent, the rider just executes tactical directions on the fly.
"Therefore, the rider's tactical skill is not as important as his V02 max (maximal oxygen consumption, which doping directly affects). If you make the riders the tacticians, you end up with a race that is influenced less by any doping that is going on."
What is important now is to avoid the human defects that led to Armstrong's demise.
How can the greed for success drive any human being to this point of lying, manipulating and arrogance? Well, greed does just that. It wants more. It whines and wheedles and tramples what's in its way until it destroys the sport and the greedy athlete.
Now Armstrong acts like a juvenile, saying, "Well, others have done it, so why just look at me?" Yes, other sport heroes have been caught doing illicit drugs, but they haven't thrown their competitors under the bus, much less the entire sport.
What is the antidote for greed? It is accepting responsibility. Armstrong needs to grow up and own up and then quickly and quietly go away.
- Gloria West is executive director of Midwest Sports Events. She writes a monthly column on outdoor recreation. She can be reached at gloria@midwestsportsevents.