On the website where seventime Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong explained why he would no longer contest charges that he cheated to gain an unfair physical advantage, there is an image in the background.
It is faded, but it is a photograph of Armstrong with a huge and toothy smile on his face in the sweet meat of being the ultimate champion. When I printed out his statement, the image was no longer visible, a haunting yet perfect metaphor for what Armstrong has seemingly become: no longer there. At least no longer there in terms of what millions thought of him—a man not only of remarkable, almost superhuman physical resilience, but a man millions of kids grew up wanting to emulate. One of them being my own 21-year-old son, Caleb.
“I took up cycling because of him. I got interested in the tour. He was a really good model of being healthy and being active…He inspired so many people.”
Caleb is not blind. He said it was hard not to read the statement and conclude that when Armstrong said, “There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say ‘Enough is enough’ ” and that he was finished fighting the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s fanatical attempt to strip him of his victories, what lay below the outrage was an admission that he may well have cheated with performance enhancers in order to win. That bothers my son. It is why he called the stunning announcement a “sad day.” But it is also why he called it a “weird day” emotionally because of the constant effort t...