There is no way around it; people cheat. Not only in sport but in every aspect of life you will find someone who is willing to do the unjust thing to get a head, to get a leg up on everyone else. Sometimes people get caught while others ride the wave and while offenses may vary the end result is dishonesty to friends, family, team mates, and believers.
I have to say I have always been a believer in Lance and not just because he could win but because he battled against the odds of growing up in tough circumstances, fighting cancer, and leaving those who hated him eating their words. This was the Lance I saw, the Lance I cheered for up Mont Ventoux, the only reason I tuned in every morning to watch bike racing. He made me believe. I hated that his old “friends” and team mates would rat him out as soon as they landed in hot water and although I am no idiot I just really wanted, more than anything, to know someone could beat the dopers with all of the odds stacked against them in so many facets of life.
The sport of cycling is dirty and their is no way around it. “Bad” doctors make way more money than “good” doctors so the lure of cheating and the “everyone is doing it attitude” is infectious. As an endurance athlete who has been put through the USADA and WADA drug tests countless times at all times of the day I know how it goes and I can never imagine standing on the podium knowing you don’t belong there. For me, I would rather walk away from a sport than cheat but I have never been in the situation many of these men have been in nor do I care to be.
There are a lot of things that go in to this discussion, far too many for a blog, but at the end of the day Lance cheated. They all cheated, the coaches cheated, the managers cheated. I guess the thing that still makes me defend Lance in some way is that he did change peoples’ lives for the better. He made Americans love road biking, he gave cancer patients hope, he gave that kid with a bicycle and a dream something to ride for. I can’t forgive someone for being dishonest and paying to beat the system but I also know he changed peoples lives, something far greater than sport and for that I will always stand up for him.