Your editorial in the Jan. 30, 2013 of the Lakes District News on Lance Armstrong was read by us with interest. Since many people have voiced their opinions regarding the Armstrong sage, here is ours.
For some 10 years now, we have followed “Le Tour” quite faithfully. July is Tour De France month for us. Live broadcast starts at 5:30 a.m. and winds up with the podium and the results at about 8:30 a.m. As a rule we did not miss too many days. We kept a daily record for the standings. For all these years we enjoyed the race and the cogent commentaries. Lance Armstrong was the man to watch, we did, and enjoyed what we saw. There was always talk about doping. The riders who were caught had their Tour immediately terminated. Of course, suspicious yes were on Lance. For all these years we were also told that Lance was the most checked (for dope) athlete. Mistakenly, we thought the process was sound. To made accusations, suspicion is not good enough. One needs proof.
Proof came via accusations by former teammates, and then there was, of course, the sensational admission on the Oprah show (one wonders for this performance, who was paid for what).
Sometimes we are astonished over the self-righteous attitude with which we judge athletes. Why is an athlete, who makes his mark in his sport, expected to become an instant model citizen. Whether an athlete goes to the hockey rink, the soccer field or joins the Tour De France, he goes to work to make a living. In this, he does not differ much from the rest of us. So why do we project athletes into something they may or may not be – and are surprised if they do not deliver what we quite unreasonably expect.
When we look at Lance Armstrong, we see a man who, yes, duped us, his fans, but who was also massively used by organizations that for many years profited by his name. For these people, he became the fall guy. Doping might improve performance and therefore results, but pedalling his bike, a rider has to do all by himself, riding daily a stage that might have 180 to 250 km in length for a tool of 3500 km in three weeks. This makes the riders of the Tour the toughest athletes bar none.
Where does all this leave us, the fans of the Tour De France? Come next July, we will be watching the Tour and probably enjoy it.
Konrad and Gerda Feldmann