What’s brought home when watching Cycling’s Greatest Fraud is the human capacity for denial. As the invincible bionic Armstrong achieved the impossible year after year doubters were scorned and an army of storm trooper pep squad goons lauded him wherever he went. When you watch the miraculously cleansed 2013 Tour de France what kind of rube must you be to believe any of them are straight? I’m not naming names but you could probably hazard a guess (here’s a clue: anyone with a chance of winning).
This is an entirely reasonable re-tread of the story of Lance “Chuckles” Armstrong – his rise, his fall, his superhuman chutzpah. The greatest cheater in all of cycling history hid in plain sight throughout his prime much like ghoulish kiddie fiddler Jimmy Savile. US Postal teammate and fellow dope Tyler Hamilton talks about how a positive cortisone test during Armstrong’s first tour win in 1999 led to a bullshit backdated prescription. Problem solved. A constant cat and mouse game with testers led to US Postal team riders hiding when they called round or dropping out of races if they knew their blood was tainted. Problem averted.
Just like with Jimmy Savile everyone knew and much like nobody wanted to shit on Jimmy Savile’s charity work nobody really wanted to shit on Armstrong’s recovery from cancer. And of course he was a remorseless bully, destroying the lives and careers of anyone who broke omerta. Ask Filippo Simeoni, Frankie Andreu or Emma O’Reilly what happens when you get in his way.
The snub made Landis sing like a canary and kicked off a chain of events that prompted Travis Tygart to get 11 former teammates to testify against the mighty Oz. The USADA report detonated like a giant atom bomb made of shit on his desk.
There’s a decent chance he could have walked away with his 7 tour victories had he not shunned Floyd Landis after his doping ban but hubris reigned. The snub made Landis sing like a canary and kicked off a chain of events that prompted Travis Tygart to get 11 former teammates to testify against the mighty Oz. The USADA report detonated like a giant atom bomb made of shit on his desk. Even then he hoped to ride it out.
Then one by one the endorsements disappear, race organisers want their prize money back and supporters run for cover. His accusers vindicated, his conspiracy unmasked and his brand vaporised he only had one course of action left: step into Oprah Winfrey‘s confessional, make a a nearly but not quite total mea culpa and try to explain what exactly he meant about feeling sorry for people who don’t believe in miracles.
What a dick.
The verdict: So you think you can, Lance?
Marks out of 10: 7