There was a time I was heavily into cycling. My best bike is the same one Lance Armstrong rode when he won the 1999 Tour de France, a Trek 5500, a carbon-fiber beauty with high-class components. (His might have had some added goodies, who knows?). I've taken a few multi-day, multi-hundred mile rides, have trained to and succeeded in climbing some pretty challenging mountains, into pretty thin air. It ain't easy. Although I've never competed, I have raced my nephew home once or twice, so I know all there is to know about that. (Nowadays, my body being what it's become, there are highway beautification rules that prevent me from being seen out there in Lycra. So I ride my lesser Cannondale on a trainer. Indoors.)
I feel bad about what's happened.
Having fought allegations for so long, it would seem Lance has concluded without saying so that they have something on him that'll stick. It's disappointing. On the other hand, doping or not, what he did takes an incredible amount of commitment, talent, toughness, and fitness. Heck, he won against other dopers, didn't he? In the fricking Alps. Shoot me up like Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens put together, I still could't make it out of the starting gate of the Tour.
Which brings me to the point. I've always thought that there should be strict rules for amateur sports. But pros? Makers of millions? Like NFL, NBA, MLB, and NCAA Division I college athletes? I say, except for drugs known to do long-term damage, why not? Same way I've always said those Division I colleges should tell their major sport players, hey, you want an education, we'll give you one. Otherwise, here's free room and board, a car, condoms, a nice monthly stipend, show up for practice, okay? I mean, who's kidding whom?
Or maybe not. I don't know what I think. Only that the Armstrong thing makes me sad. But, nowadays, what doesn't?