I tried to do another post to celebrate my 100th blog entry, but as I was drafting it, I realized that I can't delay my thoughts on the Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah one bit. I need to say my peace, and find out the opinions of runners regarding Lance Armstrong wanting to be able to compete again in the future.
I admit, I wasn't following this scandal as much as some people who are very interested in the cycling world; I was one of the people who knew of Lance from his achievements, the 7 tour wins, the cancer fight, dating Cheryl Crow, creating Livestrong. I thought of him as an amazing man, someone who had persevered and done amazing things in his life, and had actively taken the time to pay it forward through an amazing organization for cancer research.
When the ASADA report came out, I didn't read it, but I wasn't sure what to think. It seemed, based on what had went on for years, that people were out to get him. At this point, the historical testing of his urine samples hadn't happened, and so I kept thinking that all the facts weren't known, and that I wasn't prepared to judge one way or another.
I watched both interviews last night and today. Wow. I am torn regarding the interview, whether he was sincere, whether he truly admitted that his life was a lie, that he was a bully, a jerk. I thought he admitted some things frankly and candidly, but it certainly was not a no holds barred interview, he didn't admit how it was done, he avoided topics, and keep walking a fine line between accepting responsibility for his actions and blaming the "doping culture."
I don't think the interview was enough, or was done for altruistic reasons or for the public's benefit. This was clearly for him, and what he could do to earn money, get sympathy, rebuild his reputation, or get the ban lifted. However, I do believe there is a doping culture, and that at some level, because he was so popular and got caught, he is becoming a scapegoat, someone that is being punished more than others who had similar "crimes against sport."
I was especially struck by the conversation when it turned to his ban, and how this affected his ability to run. He got a lifetime ban, from anything sanctioned, which means many, many running races, he can never participate in. Lance Armstrong says he hopes to have that ban lifted, to run in the Chicago Marathon when he is 50. Online, there has been talk of his Boston marathon time of 2:50:58 from the 2008 race, where he came in 497th place, that it would be vacated, as if it didn't happen.
As a runner, I understand how this would be hard to accept. Races are part of what we do, what we enjoy, why we run. To run without a goal race, without something to work toward, would be very hard to accept. I have a hard enough time having motivation when I do have a race, I can't imagine having to accept to race against my own time on my own made up courses or a treadmill.
That being said, it is a consequence of his own stupid actions. He needs to understand that his actions have consequences. Cycling is his love, and he should never get the chance to race again. Period. That will be punishment for the rest of his life. But running? He is never going to place in a big race like Boston or Chicago. Should he be allowed to join a group of people to work out together, to enjoy a hobby that will never earn him money, that will never get him prize money? What happens if he gets better at running without doping? Do we ban him then?
What about triathalons? Apparently, he was having quite a good year in 2012 before he was banned, and could have had a shot at Kona: http://www.runtri.com/2012/02/lance-armstrong-results-at-ironman-703.html
If I had to say my peace on the running issue, I would lean towards letting him run a 10k, letting him join Team Diabetes or another charitable running program to make some amends. Him running probably won't make any negative impact in anyone's life. But ban him from triathalons, from the bike, because that is where he should be punished. Let him compete in running, but don't let him win. That will hurt him just as much, if not more than not letting him participate at all.
What do you think of the running ban that comes along with Lance Armstrong's ASADA punishment? As a runner, do you think he should be banned from races? Why?