Tuesday, July 28, 2009

71 The Church Of Lance Armstrong


Over the past couple of years, I have been sort of a silent surveyor of the emotions people have for Lance Armstrong. You need not go to Austin, Texas for this privilege. Its right here on the internet.

While Mr. Armstrong's Twitter account is bludgeoning with over 1.5 million followers, fierce wars are being waged in forums, blogs, news websites, sports commentaries, opinion columns and even video sites like Youtube and Metacafe. I wonder if the numbers of people and the sheer amount of time spent/wasted in these 'word battles' make any sense to a casual observer at all.

To give you a small perspective, take Yahoo Sports for example. On stories such as this one in YS, the number of comments from people who were interested in trading and exchanging the war of words on the topic of who was right and who was wrong is easily over 1900. Yes, you read right. One thousand nine hundred comments.

Now, if you go through such comments like you slowly flip the pages of a fat book, you can sort of arrive at a general trend of what people are thinking. This trend has been overwhelming many websites. People are all thinking in this direction. Its the number ONE herd attitude that has been behind the persona of Armstrong.

If you have read these comments or have experience in dealing with them, much of them hold one underlying thought process, which may be associated with a fallacy of the human mind. Its a cognitive bias and I talk a little about it towards the end of this post.

I won't call out anyone's specific comments, but lets see what that dominant herd attitude is...put in my own words, in a clean and decent fashion, without tears, yells, screaming or inappropriate language :

"I'm a huge fan of this athlete and you sir, are wrong if you aren't. If one is a survivor of a disease that has touched many, has achieved a great athletic feat in sports successive times and has managed to bring huge amounts of recognition for the sport and money along with it, that person is simply too great and should be automatically immune from criticism or have the privilege of being reserved from criticism in spite of shoddy behavior. This is because the sum of the parts are excessively good even though the individual constituent parts maybe bad, as you say. You are simply jealous of someone else's success."

Let's substitute the appropriate words for the general terms :

this athlete = Lance Armstrong
disease that has touched many = Cancer
recognition for the sport = recognition for cycling

This is the underlying idea. Simple.

Now I don't know if there are any readers of my blog out there who are neutral about this Armstrong phenomena or entirely against his attitude. But if you are, you know that the above sentences are what is being fed down your throat over and over again. It has been blended like juice in many forms and has different variations but the recipe is the same. It doesn't matter how much scholarly criticism you round up against the figure of Armstrong. It doesn't matter which objective sources of information you cite for your arguments. You will get the same juice from the 'followers' to drink.

This is the herd behavior because it also rubs on other people like a virus and soon, they all begin to think alike, even though they have not done their own research on who they are voicing for. Its like fashion. Today something new comes along, quick start believing in it. The blind fanaticism then runs like a pandemic.

Now it doesn't take much to see that this blind fanaticism over one man has obviously taken religious proportions. And there are consequences if you don't follow.

Many of Lance's detractors may have come across a certain stigma in the public. What is stigma? It is a state of being discredited or rejected in society. And here's the cause of that stigma : If you don't like Lance Armstrong in your circle of friends or any group of people, then its likely you're somehow viewed as not being religious. You don't fit in the herd. There must be something wrong in your head.

The religion here is that of supporting the fight against cancer through the faith and and a Herculean worship towards Lance Armstrong. It is a religion because its followers are bound by its ideals and to thinking, talking and having faith in the powers of a human demigod, a personality behind this disease, all the time. You are not to criticize, only support no matter what the circumstances.

To signify you are part of this loyal cult, you will engage in exclusive practices such as wearing yellow and black, an elastane wristband, donating lots of money to his charity, taking part in his mega charity rides, all this while carrying high the torch of the day the demigod survived cancer. You may even build a shrine for him, right in the neighborhood gym or at the local bike shop where you will adorn the walls with lots of pictures of his face or his sweaty body riding a bicycle.

While all this is going on, the demigod high the throne of the food chain being adored, loves the adoration so much that he becomes a full time narcissist, converting the adorers into money and further adoration. Its a perpetual cycle. If he can't do this himself, there are others on the royal bandwagon to help in the process. They then take a share of the pie too. $$$ !

Whether you consider this religion good or bad is up to you, but it is a cult considering the size of the adulation, the inflated fascination towards one individual and the sheer number of his followers.

If you're a detractor of the religion, you could be easily viewed not only as a detractor of the god, but as an atheist to this goal, this ideal, this philosophy of the fight against cancer. You don't recognize that he came back from the dead, you don't recognize that he is the savior, you don't recognize that he dominated in a sport after he resurrected, you don't recognize that he has the power to save people from death because of his fame and power. You may not even recognize what cancer is!

Now sit back and think. Which other great story has a parallel to the story of Lance. Maybe not literally, but still? Jesus Christ rose from the dead, 3 days after He was crucified. And then He promised He would return to save the world and provide salvation to those who believe. You're a Christian if you believe in Him and have a one to one relationship with Him, if you believe in what he can do for you. Billions believe in his power to heal and to work miracles in their life or anyone's life.

The name of Christ has been associated with one of the greatest victories in the history of human civilization. It has been associated with the greatest battle yet to come. It is one of the holiest of the holy names. Yet, lets not forget that even such a revered individual and prophet such as Jesus Christ has not been immune to criticism. The Holy Bible has been turned upside down and inspected with the greatest precision and critical eye. Detractors, such as Richard Dawkins, are celebrities today. Its a little ironic, but he happens to have his own big following.

If millions believe that Jesus has the power to forgive your sins, protect or cure you and fight evil, are you looked upon as a bad person if you fight Jesus and his followers? What gives you the monopoly to think that Jack is wrong and morally a bad person if he does not follow what you believe?

In other words, if Jesus Christ and the Bible can be debated in a sound manner as is happening in many educated circles today, why not Lance Armstrong?

Well. Uh-oh. It doesn't work that way. In fact, if you do the same against Lance Armstrong, you're a jerk, a dick, a piece of shit, someone who doesn't value life or success and is a hater for the fight against cancer.

Really? Never has been the word 'hater' so overused and out of context. Who talked anything about cancer here? We're talking about the man. We're talking about his personality. We're talking about his wrongdoings and serious misdemeanors that need a place for focused, intelligent discussion.

Nope. Not allowed. ACCESS DENIED. We will delete your comment. Our management will have you banned. He fought cancer, he's a cancer survivor. He won the Tour de France 7 times. Sorry, we believe in him and We're Holier Than Thou. You will hereby be an outcast.

Sadly, when celebrities and their egos attain larger than life proportions, so do the fallacies in the minds of their followers who engage in this hero worship, a cult phenomena. It is largely termed as cognitive bias. Confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias. This refers to a form of selective thinking that focuses on evidence that supports what believers already believe while ignoring evidence that refutes their beliefs. You can see it in all comments on all websites in support of Lance Armstrong. This will be a wonderful terrain for those of you interested in social psychology experiments. You can see it happening from a distance. You can study it. But you'll be wasting your time if you enter the Church and question its belief system.

All Hell will then break loose. Run for your life.

I suspect that the Church of Lance Armstrong was founded on the day he rose from death and defeated cancer. It is very real, and it is here to stay for a very very long time. Yet, thousands of people all over the world fight the disease with little fanfare and emerge as survivors. Who really gives a fish about them?




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71 comments:

  1. I'm not ashamed to say I'm a Lance Armstrong fan, simply because he insipres me. But seriously though, I do not waste my time on forums and websites trying to battle an opponent who has a different point of view. I'm a working mother of two and have my own problems to take care of at home. Some folks have a lot of time in their hands and that's pretty certain from your link.

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  2. Anonymous10:12 PM

    Brilliant piece of writing.
    Am I frustrated? Yes. This whole thing is entering bizarro world. This is a full-scale PR offensive against Contador rolled out here. I don't think I've ever seen a TDF champion treated like this and I'm no fan of Contador. This is what happens when you offend and usurp "the face of cycling" (Lance Armstrong) I guess. The Church was offended.

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  3. Bold and thought provoking. It has inspired me to think "what is the cost to the infrastructure of the internet from all this lance mania and livestrong internet battles"? Surely some agencies must be paying some serious bucks to host all this nonsense on the Web. It must be like spam, which costs 3 billion dollars in wasted electricity each year.

    @ Anon 10:12 : Face of cycling? Isn't that something Phil Liggett coined. Ooops. Me and my big mouth. I just whispered out the name of the Church's first inductee.

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  4. Anonymous11:19 PM

    I relate the stigma you're talking about. The other day, I mentioned about not being a fan of LA to a friend (who is one) and he gave a look like he didn't know me before. I love cycling, so whats the problem?

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  5. Anonymous11:40 PM

    Ron,

    Every civilization has it's arenas and its gladaitors which the media builds up as heros of the moment to sell more media. Lance is shrewd in that he is taking advantage of this media circus for the greater good for humanity, in trying to find a cures for cancer. Lance may never be a saint but at least he is moving beyond himself and his own ego. Now if the rest of us could do that as well.

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  6. Sprocket_Rocket11:56 PM

    The Church of Lance Armstrong is dead on. Check this out, the hypnotized Mayor of Aspen proclaims today that there needs to be a special day on the calender set apart for Lance Armstrong. A Lance Armstrong day? Give me a break. This has to be the most inflated hero worship in America in decades. What is wrong with this country?

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  7. Doesn't anyone (outside the very smart and good looking readers of this blog ) remember that Contador has also has his resurrection? Why aren't we worshipping him? Can it be because he doesn't speak (good) English and all the real information about him is in Spanish?

    Who do the latino's in the US support just out of interest? (I am an Aussie and have no idea if this is offensive - forgive me if it is).

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  8. sorry about the errant apostrophe btw

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  9. Lance may never be a saint but at least he is moving beyond himself and his own ego. Now if the rest of us could do that as well.

    Anon @ 11:40pm : I can't disagree that his cancer organization is not working in the background to raise cancer awareness. The problem happens when you sit with a group of people and try to objectively critique his actions and antics in public. The discussion quickly becomes an emotional one and you can't do but withdraw because someone attacks you saying you're not a believer in the fight against cancer. That is taking it way beyond rationality. This is the stigma I'm talking about, if you read the post.

    Also, survey the latest news articles from the best sources. There is an unwritten code of conduct for a leader in sport who self assumed the role of a humanitarian after he rose from the grave, his cancer bed. Having been given the privilege to live a second time, you would think his previous misgivings would die away, at least in this year. Didn't happen so far. One champion disrespecting another points to some personality flaws, no matter who the person is. Lance gets to bear the brunt of this behavior because of his revered, overrated status in the public mind.

    Interestingly, if you survey the link I sent you, I caught a number of people coming forward and saying that they burnt their Livestrong band because the hero they had in their mind did not come across as true in reality. Looks like Lance has hurt some serious feelings.

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  10. Doesn't anyone (outside the very smart and good looking readers of this blog ) remember that Contador has also has his resurrection? Why aren't we worshipping him? Can it be because he doesn't speak (good) English and all the real information about him is in Spanish?

    @ B 12:31am : Greetings. No doubt Alberto Contador also survived a life threatening condition to get to where he is today. But like you said, the ignorance about him as a person abounds today among people. No one knows about him. He is in a media blackhole. Other persons hijacked the media for their own agenda.

    Contador does not speak English well. I'm sure the average person who watches cycling in North America has a huge bias towards spoken English and much bias towards the folks from their own country. Who the heck is Contador, they must be saying? Without knowing a single thing about him, they are quick to make judgments upon his character, his morals, even his intelligence. But if you do the same about Lance, you're given an hour long lecture of the things he accomplished, the way he survived cancer, what he's doing for the people who has the disease and so on.

    To give you an example of this sort of behavior, survey Fat Cyclist, a famous cycling blog unabashed in its support for Lance and his ideals. If you look at both the post and the comments section to this recent post of his, the people who support Fatty and cancer don't like Contador, as you can see through their comments. Why? Becuase they don't like his pistol victory salute it seems. Because they don't like his attitude on winning. Because they don't...or frankly..just don't like him, without rhyme or reason!

    Do they know anything about him? Hardly.

    Is it really because they don't like his pistol salute or is it because he is a threat to their idol, Lance Armstrong??

    Well, having said that, they're free to think what they like but its interesting and amusing for a casual observer like me to see the different types of attitudes people have towards their fans and their enemies.

    I hope Fatty's wife gains strength to fight on, btw. I'm not against what he and his family are going through.

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  11. Anonymous2:31 AM

    LA is not Jesus Christ. People don't believe in a man in the sky who doesn't do anything for you. What is more rational? Belief in the man in the sky or belief in a human who is doing something for cancer?

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  12. Timothy2:46 AM

    Ron - I'm an American but have an Asian background. I dont have any religious beliefs but I do place some validity behind the Yin-Yang Taoist philosophy. The whole premise behind this is that every duality can be explained by Yin-Yang. Good, bad, cold, hot, high, low etc. And if you have seen the Yin-Yang symbol, each one has a tiny circular spot of opposite nature. Meaning Yin has a little bit of Yang and Yang has a little bit of Yin.

    When I think of Lance Armstrong and try to find a reason why he behaves the way he does, I find that he's not too different from any of us. His life is a Yin, and when there's too much of it, the opposite takes over, the Yang and so there's a balance that makes who he is. Even though he maybe in his Yin right now, you can see that there's goodness in him. Every good thing has a bit of evil in it. See it this way and a lot of people won't complain about Alberto Contador or Lance Armstrong. Yin and Yang is an age old Chinese idea and there's much truth behind it.

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  13. Yes I am a Lance fan, but the one thing that scares me is the Power he has which can be used for good and evil.......The words he utters are gospel and people flock.....

    BUT

    There are many cashing in on the Lance phenomenon, eg: I am selling my personal "X" which is the same as used by Lance Armstrong as I used to work for Lance blah blah blah.

    So Love Lance, love his acheivements, but the whole story ahd cash written all over it and many cash in.....

    Love my Trek bike, love my Discovery channel gear (sorry Astana) and most of all I believe that cancer is a worthy cause...but those cashing in for less than ethical purpose and if Lance himself uses his power (and he has a lot more of it than we can understand), for evil - then it all gets a bit ugly - unfotunately.

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  14. Anonymous9:47 AM

    So let me find something you like and call it "herd mentality".

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  15. Ron, great piece. When you compare Armstrong to anyone at the top of his sport in the weird environment we live in, I don't think he's so different from anyone else. Kobe Bryant? Michael Vick? Charles Barkley? Are any of them real role models?

    I do think LA had an awesome performance in the Tour this year. The comeback is the hardest act in professional sports, and it's so often an eye-averting embarrassment. Not so this time.

    Nonetheless, I can't call myself a "fan". Even though i used to live in Austin.

    PS: Awesome graphic. I love the yellow-wristband-as-halo. Inspired.

    Visit http://www.practicalcycist.blogspot.com

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  16. I meant:

    visit http://www.practicalcyclist.blogspot.com

    (you know that already)

    Cheers, Robert

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  17. Wilson11:23 AM

    You are very bold to step out and talk about this issue. I've not seen anyone write something like this, yet a good portion of what you're saying are my feelings also. I guess it is taboo to question how much this modern day god makes in money. How much is going to his coffers? And is there an objective analysis anywhere of what his cancer charity has been able to do so far since the Second Rising? I find it a little absurd that people make up the fact in their minds that he can find a cure for cancer. Yet his cancer foundation has made no statement or promises about any such thing. Where do people get this from? I guess we're to shut our mouths if we're against Lance because he's out to find a cure. Watch out.

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  18. There is another bias in the minds of people. Believe me, even I am a victim of it. If someone comes along tomorrow and spreads the sport I'm interested in to more people, suddenly he's to be held as a saint. That's another famous argument given when you talk about LA. He spread the word about the sport of cycling so he's a good man. Really?

    As usual, a dead-on piece of writing from you. You can really study the behavior of people in marvelous ways.

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  19. Anonymous12:09 PM

    That picture is priceless. You should make it the one in your biography.

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  20. My thoughts...though unpopular...

    I'm a cyclist, but more importantly a mother of five and I make many "character" calls based on this one premise...."if this person were a kid, would I let my kids play with them?" :) and I believe about Armstrong, pretty much what I believed about John McCain when he was running for president...just because x person has been a prisoner of war...or in Armstrong's case...a prisoner of disease, doesn't necessarily classify them as a "hero". Yes, surviving these situations is noteworthy and a good testiment to the human spirit... but neither survived these situations because of their OWN fortitude alone... a network of people HELPED them...and just because they survived doesn't make EVERYTHING else they do in life, good, virtuous or heroic.

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  21. Anonymous12:12 PM

    I find myself in agreement with most of the article except its singling out of support for Lance Armstrong.

    This phenomena of blind adulation and automatic rejection of any criticism of a public figure can be seen of many others including political figures:
    Obama, Limbaugh, Reagan, Clinton (both of them), Bush (both of them, perhaps three or four of them), Blair, Thatcher, de Gaule, Gorbachev, Roosevelt, Eisenhauer and so many more. The same goes for athletes Tomba, Rose, Senna, Rossi, Hinault, Mercx, Maradona, Gretzky and a long list of others.

    But the reverse is true as well. Many (of course not all, just as not all fans are unconditionally supportive) of the critics of notable public figures will latch onto anything that can possibly be perceived as a negative quality of these people. This happens with the same confirmation bias as that used to dismiss such critiques. The vitriol that is used by the detractors of famous people is not less objectionable that that used by the adorers.

    In the specific case of Lance Armstrong, I have read as much irrational criticism of him as I have read irrational defense of him.

    One can find objectionable behaviour on both sides of most topics, including discussions of famous people.

    While the Lance Armstrong phenomena is a good example of this (both in his supporters and detractors), it is just one example and can be seen in most other famous people as well.

    Cheers!

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  22. Anonymous12:48 PM

    I just love the irony. A blog post, time spent using paintshop, etc etc - just to tell everybody else that they are wasting resources talking about Lance Armstrong. How much time did you spend on this article?

    The real joke behind all of this is that the anti-Lance brigade are making LA larger than life. Accusing him of powers and influence that are absolutely incredible.

    Every church needs a martyr, and you lot are doing a fine job of creating one!

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  23. I feel confident that Ron navigates photoshop or errrr, ummm I mean "paintshop"...effortlessly ;)

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  24. Anonymous1:03 PM

    HELL(cat) ON WHEELS..

    Maybe this will help you http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corel_Paint_Shop_Pro

    Ha ha, you are just as bad as the LA Zealots out there. Incapable of seeing both sides of an argument.

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  25. @ Anon 12:48, 1:03 : I'm sure people of your likes will argue that Lance Armstrong is really good at what he does, regardless of what his underlying motive is. If you acknowledge that, then the author of the blog is also pretty good at what he does, which is writing. Coming here and pointing to someone's availability of time to pursue the art of expression without offering much in terms of conversation is a weak argument. It happens on many blogs, not just this.

    The article is also balanced out if you did manage to finish it. The message I took from this is that no matter who you are, whether you're an individual in colossal adulation for a sports star, or whether you're his critic, you're in someways wasting you time arguing in favor of both ways. This idea is something you won't find in forums out in the 'battlefield'.

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  26. Anonymous1:35 PM

    @Phil

    Actually I see LA as a bit of a flawed genius.

    Anyway, the main point of my argument is that the more people who are anti-LA go on about him, the more they entrench him in the minds of his supporters. Thereby creating their own Frankenstein!

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  27. mithun2:06 PM

    I'm from India and although we don't have a big cycling following here compared to Western countries, I'm a big fan of the Tour de France and like to watch both Contador and Armstrong.

    It is certain that over the past few days and weeks, the supporters of both these superstars have been battling endlessly with vitriol but it must surely be only on the internet. The web gives you a luxury of hiding your face while expressing views, so you can trade as many barbs as you want, no matter how objectionable they are. The internet is responsible in a way for provoking people to lose their mannerisms. I question, will these same people act the way they do in real life, talking face to face with a person of opposite perspective? I don't think so, no?

    All this press, media and trading of words because Contador said one thing : "He's a great rider and he did a great Tour. Another thing is on a personal level, where I have never admired him and never will."

    In a way, your post really has a lot of meaning because this is what Contador said, but the leader Armstrong and his followers thought that it was grossly disrespectful to have a different point of view. Where is democracy?!

    But see, if Armstrong said something against Bernard Hinault, it will be okay for Lance Armstrong supporters. It is a passable error. Belive me, that is the truth. Bias is the right word.

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  28. Wally2:30 PM

    Ron, I really suspect that the fued between Armstrong and Contador will reflect what is happening among fans of soccer.

    It will be an all-out racist war. And if there are Americans of all people engaging in his, seriously, they're all animals. Backward civilization.

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  29. Anonymous2:55 PM

    yea just like all humans who have achived some form of greatness they expect those others to surround them or WORK for them to be great too. Artists, actors, sports stars, polititions, the list goes on. All greatness brings some form of social distortion. Inaddition the average person, by human nature looks to take down anyone who shows greatness.

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  30. Fixedmoto4:14 PM

    Child of Lance, let us then partake in this offering, whereby we partake in the suffering before He resurrected from satanic cancer. Do with me, unto our Lord. Let us wear our Livestrong band, and chant his name, whilst we drink this cup of FRS energy drink and think silently of the date of 10//2. Ameeeen.

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  31. Anonymous8:54 PM

    Lance's main interest isn' in curing cancer, it's about his ego and raking in the money. He's good for the sport because he has inspired a lot of folks to recognize it. But I suspect he's a vengeful and villainous person if crossed, and Alberto surely did cross him. So did Landis, in the sense that Landis was a terrific cyclist. I fully suspect Lance had something to do with Landis' being DQed from the MJ in the TdF.

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  32. Anon said at 12:12 pm : This phenomena of blind adulation and automatic rejection of any criticism of a public figure can be seen of many others including political figures:
    Obama, Limbaugh, Reagan, Clinton (both of them), Bush (both of them, perhaps three or four of them), Blair, Thatcher, de Gaule, Gorbachev, Roosevelt, Eisenhauer and so many more. The same goes for athletes Tomba, Rose, Senna, Rossi, Hinault, Mercx, Maradona, Gretzky and a long list of others.


    You forgot Adolf Hitler.

    Agreed that there are many characters in our world today behind which people flock. Armstrong takes a special mention because he came back from his deathbed, didn't he, to dominate an event for 7 years. It is a miracle, so people are captivated by miracles which they can see. Then they flock behind and a fanbase is created. This fanbase around Armstrong went viral because everyone thought he was morally a great person simply because he had a cancer fund going for him. That bias multiplied support for Armstrong like flu.

    But that does not give the person receiving this adulation, Armstrong, any reservation against criticism from those who don't believe in his specific actions. However, criticism has been really hard to fling at this individual in particular because directly, or indirectly, he uses cancer as a shield, like Captain America. Anyone that Armstrong hurts or embarrasses need justice. When you go to debate his actions, his following-this Lance Armstrong Church-comes back fighting at you verbally screaming you're attacking the value systems behind the fight against cancer. Thats a bogus treatment of a discussion.

    It is supposed "leaders" like this that can amass tremendous support from their Church to hurt someone, bomb another country or make wrong decisions that could affect many people. Bush had it. We saw what he did to the world. Enough said.

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  33. mithun said at 3:06pm : It is certain that over the past few days and weeks, the supporters of both these superstars have been battling endlessly with vitriol but it must surely be only on the internet. The web gives you a luxury of hiding your face while expressing views, so you can trade as many barbs as you want, no matter how objectionable they are. The internet is responsible in a way for provoking people to lose their mannerisms. I question, will these same people act the way they do in real life, talking face to face with a person of opposite perspective? I don't think so, no?

    Greetings.

    Well said mithun. This should be put forward both the parties fighting over Armstrong. I certainly don't have an answer but it will be amusing to find out.

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  34. Hellcat said at 12:11pm : I'm a cyclist, but more importantly a mother of five and I make many "character" calls based on this one premise...."if this person were a kid, would I let my kids play with them?" :) and I believe about Armstrong, pretty much what I believed about John McCain when he was running for president...just because x person has been a prisoner of war...or in Armstrong's case...a prisoner of disease, doesn't necessarily classify them as a "hero". Yes, surviving these situations is noteworthy and a good testiment to the human spirit... but neither survived these situations because of their OWN fortitude alone... a network of people HELPED them...and just because they survived doesn't make EVERYTHING else they do in life, good, virtuous or heroic. .

    Greetings. You're more than welcome to express yourself here. I don't resort to deleting comments of those who differ or support my point of view.

    Your perspective makes me want to agree with you. The Church of Lance Armstrong thinks that he's righteous, uses circular reasoning to proclaim that no one can disrespect him because he's a 7 Time Tour winner. Notice the circular reasoning there.

    But I beg the question. Where was this Lance Armstrong when he was in his boy years?? He was, by his own admission, a lost and angry young jerk. Two trainers, Chris Charmichael and Johann Bruyneel, took him under their paternal wing and coaxed stellar talent out of his troubled body and soul. Eddy Merckx, perhaps the greatest cyclist ever, was also a huge influence in Lance's life. When others abandoned him professionally, his agent Ken Stapleton stayed by his side. He was emotionally immature and reckless too, even now, but in a more contained fashion. His successes didn't just pop out of the jar. A lot of people were behind him to mold him into something respectable to show the world.

    To the Church of Lance Armstrong, those details don't matter. He was great, he is great, he will be great and hence, one is to shut up talking against him. Huh?

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  35. "A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker." - Buddha

    Extend this to LA.

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  36. Tit4Tat1:22 AM

    This is not the first time Armstrong became a jerk. He was a jerk all his life. Just think - if this cancer survivorship thing never showed up in the first place, would people seriously pass/flock to justify his rascal behavior all the time? Absolutely not. Its preposterous to think they would. Like I always say again and again, this man will not change unless writers like you slam him with intelligent arguments.

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  37. E.L. Skalsky4:11 AM

    Another awesome article. See, there is a huge amount of partiality in this country towards LA simply because he's a cash cow, for the industry, for sports brands, for tv, for the sport. Everyone wants to get a piece of him and a little of that cash pie. If there were no money dealings behind all this, I doubt we would such inflated bottom kissing from many people. Cancer happens to a lot of people, but this guy is a genius to have taken it and monetized it. Someway down the line, he cleverly learnt to use it as a defense mechanism against his most piercing critics. Pity the little kids and teenagers who don't have a clue of the background of this nutcase but create an idol out of him to exemplify.

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  38. licenciadetransporte4:37 AM

    Si señor, segundorodriguez, tu si que sabes de ciclismo, pero quizás tengas que explicarle a más de uno de los fans de Armstrong que es la Dauphine Liberé, que a lo mejor piensan que es un plato típico de Francia. Saludos.

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  39. Ron,

    It seems you took a pistol and hit right at the bullseye of the issue. Many people who have commented here have spoken of the issues behind the rabid following of one cycling personality.

    People think and believe that Lance is to be made holy and given a free pass for criticism becuase he did SOMETHING great to the sport of cycling. They say without him, cycling would have been a marginal sport. It would become extinct. Not sure what these people have been watching, maybe the TV coverage in the US, but few people care in Europe and outside the US care about whether Lance is in the sport or not.

    The next argument given in support of this 'demigod' (as you termed) is that we must all respect him and start being inspired because he came after 3.5 years of counch-potatoing to land a podium spot in the Tour. Don't even get me started on how he got the podium. But I frankly don't give a damn to this "great physical achievement" that everyone is flocking to witness. No physical triumph in sport gets anywhere if your character resembles that of a pig.

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  40. Anonymous9:07 AM

    While I agree that the deification of Armstrong. I disagree this deification would not have taken place without Armstrong having had cancer. As I wrote yesterday (12:12) there is a long list of examples of others who have been similarly deified
    (and similarly criticized) who have not had cancer (or similar life threatening experiences). The deifying of anyone is objectionable.

    If it is irrational to dismiss Armstrong's faults as a result of him having won Le deTouR fRance seven times in a row, is it not similarly irrational to dismiss Armstrong's 7 wins as well as his podium finish this year as a result of his faults?

    Cheers!

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  41. Anonymous9:09 AM

    Oops.

    Should have completed the first sentance. I meant it to be:

    While I agree that the deification of Armstrong is objectionable.

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  42. Rich Castellani, MD2:39 PM

    @Ron - Here's some of the events I found ill-fitting for Armstrong in this Tour.

    - Armstrong mistreated Contador in the Astana hotel. He also used his power to buy Bruyneel and the both of them ran a one man favoritism show the entire Tour.

    - We now know Armstrong jabbed Contador psychologically in the Team bus. Contador kept quiet all through then. [http://www.steephill.tv/2009/entries/contador-post-tdf-news-conference/]

    - Other attitudes were ill-fitting for a 7 time tour champion. He stole the Astana car on the day of the ITT for personal affairs, when Contador depended on it for the race. He also ran the biggest self aggrandizement
    show for himself on the Tour by calling his friends from Hollywood and inviting them into the training area and team bus. A big show for the cameras indeed. What for?

    - He held the most driest gesture and look on the podium, in 3rd place, next to Contador. He didn't smile once. You could literally see him writhing with silent anger and beef for the winner of that day. Yet this was his own teammate, almost more than 10 years younger to him.

    The fact is, when he wants, he can choose to do what he wants. He's the supposed 7 time tour champion. But only a maniac will overestimate his self-importance. Even after he's way past his prime athletically. I for one will not endorse any one of this nature, regardless of caliber or the size of fan following.

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  43. I've been mulling some similar thoughts lately on the church of Lance. I'm not a Lance-o-phile but I do acknowledge his accomplishments as an athletes and even in the promotion of his cancer fight, but a lot of the discussion (both pro- and anti-) is so virulently off putting.

    I've met Armstrong, he comes across as a regular guy to me. He's confident and knows what he's good at, but he's still just a guy.

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  44. Anon said : If it is irrational to dismiss Armstrong's faults as a result of him having won Le deTouR fRance seven times in a row, is it not similarly irrational to dismiss Armstrong's 7 wins as well as his podium finish this year as a result of his faults?

    @Anon 9:07 : Greetings again. You're clever. There is a phenomenon in argument theory called burden of proof (its a fallacy). Yours is called burden of question, that is, shifting the weight of the question in a circular manner back to the first speaker. If we continued this all day, both speakers would never get anywhere.

    Anyway, so is it a valid question whether its irrational to dismiss Armstrong's 7 wins as well as his podium finish this year as a result of his faults? Yes its valid. But the question is not irrational certainly, because its a good question and an answer can be sought, with valid reasoning, both ways (for or against). Mark Cavendish is a solid jerk, but he deserves to be a winner because he's the strongest and there was no manipulation to fight his way there. He talked with his legs. Similarly, if you think that I'm on a holy mission to dismiss Lord LA's 7 wins, I'm not. But what do we know about one His Highness Armstrong in this year's Tour? I don't want to explain in length. Others have written about it. Read the comments immediately above and some earlier in the post.

    The point is, no one is dismissing LA's podium position. How he got there in moot, there is no straightforward answer and there are things we do not know that happened behind closed doors of the team hotel and the astana bus.

    However, the point is the very irrationality we're talking about, that a man's faults can be dismissed or passed-on (overlooked) based solely on what he achieved for cancer and sport. The immensity of this irrationality is overwhelming many discussions, meaning it is the number one herd attitude. Because of this irrationality, we're told we cannot argue at all because cancer is a sensitive topic (don't mess with it). However, the question put in the opposite direction, the topic of dismissing his podium positions and wins based on his faults, can be debated in a healthy and sound manner without "roadblocks". Do you get what I'm saying? This is the gist of the post. This fallacy comes out of bias and out of control hero worship and irrationality.

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  45. Ron - Love your blog. Keep on rockin in the free world!

    But really, we live in America, and we as a society idolize thugs. Start Googling NFL arrests if anyone doubts this. It is sad and pathetic, how "we" will excuse most any crime or shortcoming if they can "Hit Sumbody". The arguments will rage on endlessly, as intelligence is in short supply.
    -Cheers

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  46. Anonymous8:08 PM

    Lance is touted as a super bike racer, and there's no doubt but that he has skill and talent. But compare him to the racers of Eddy Mercx's generation, and to Eddy himself. Eddy raced just about every European race there was and won them over and over, or placed very well up. Lance for a long time simply raced the Tour de France. He's a one act play.

    I've often wondered how Lance would measure up against Eddy and some of the other winners of a previous generation in a stage race without radios and combat maneuver-like control from following cars.

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  47. Jenny8:35 PM

    I almost puked when I heard that Lancelot the great posted a response on twitter. It would be okay if it was anyone else, but this two-faced schmuck out of all people? Please...

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  48. Anonymous9:07 PM

    Ron wrote:

    "Greetings again. You're clever. There is a phenomenon in argument theory called burden of proof (its a fallacy). Yours is called burden of question, that is, shifting the weight of the question in a circular manner back to the first speaker. If we continued this all day, both speakers would never get anywhere."


    Hmm... I am not sure I follow in that I agree with the idea that the deification of Armstrong is a negative phenomena (as it is with anyone). I agree completely. The dismissing of Armstrong's faults based on his accomplishments is and/or his recovery from cancer is irrational. I think we agree completely about this. As such I would say that I cannot possibly be "shifting the weight of the question in a circular manner back to the first speaker".

    Ron wrote:

    "The point is, no one is dismissing LA's podium position".

    Now I should be clear that I am not stating that you have made dissmissal. But I have read many who have on many forums. Even here in these comments one finds:

    "...to land a podium spot in the Tour. Don't even get me started on how he got the podium."

    ..which reads like a dismissal to me in the context of a discussion on Armstrong's behaviour. This particular dismissal is very mild compared to similar dismissals that I have read elsewhere.


    I agree that Armstrong exhibits boorish behaviour. Although I find the criticisms of his behaviour as hyperbolic as the adulation of him based on his success as a cyclist and/or cancer survivor.

    Ron wrote:

    "However, the question put in the opposite direction, the topic of dismissing his podium positions and wins based on his faults, can be debated in a healthy and sound manner without "roadblocks". Do you get what I'm saying?"

    I get what you wrote. I agree that it can be, but I find that it rarely is. I suppose it all depends on what debate you end up in. I have witnessed many debates where "the topic of dismissing his podium positions and wins based on his faults" is not debated in a "healthy and sound manner" and has many roadblocks. I have witnesses many such discussions where positive opinion expressed about Armstrong's cycling successes is simply dismissed as blind hero worship or that one is expressing a positive opinion about Armstrong's cycling specific success just because he is a cancer survivor. An automatic dismissal of his fault can be accurately identified as hero worship, but an identification of his cycling specific successes, not necessarily.

    Again, to be clear, I am not stating that you (Ron) are doing this. But I am stating that this is very common. From my experience on the topic (which is clearly as small sample size and definitely not a random sample), the dismissal of Armstrong's cycling successes based on non cycling issues surrounding him is as common as the dismissal of criticism of non cycling issues or Armstrong based on his cycling successes.


    Ron wrote:

    "This is the gist of the post. This fallacy comes out of bias and out of control hero worship and irrationality."

    Agreed. But a similar fallacy comes out of a bias and out of a demonization and irrationality. Both are equally objectionable.

    As such one could replace Armstrong with just about any notable public figure and the phenomena is the same. The supporters (not all) and detractors (not all) each accuse the other of bias, bashing and red herrings while exhibiting these themselves (again, not all of them).


    Cheers!

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  49. Anon said : Agreed. But a similar fallacy comes out of a bias and out of a demonization and irrationality. Both are equally objectionable.

    Greetings.

    Reading that statement makes me want to ask you... do you think respected Sunday Times Sports Journalist David Walsh was irrational? All the people who testified in this serious book (with no fancy pictures) were irrational then, I suppose, and the entire work was innuendo? By your argument of 'equal objectionability', it then seems these people should all have choosen the path of rationality .. i.e, to sit still with their mouths taped up and endure the actions of the man high on the throne. This is not rationality. It is a complete failure to act. If your reasoning were true, I guess the son's of Bernard Madoff were then really out demonize their father by reporting to the FBI that he was running the biggest Ponzi Scheme in history. Would you call their actions objectionable? Just my two cents...

    Like Phil said at 1:23, one thing seems to be somewhat clear when we talk about the personality of Lance Armstrong. The argument will be endless, and those on both sides are wasting their time engaging in exchanging barbs and remarks. I agree to that. My post is however, trying to explore why Mr. Armstrong cannot be debated in an open fashion. It is because of a belief system that runs deeper than just wearing a Livestrong band. It scares me for sure.

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  50. I wrote this for another site but I think it might fit here;

    I know many people like Armstrong. How? Because I stand up for my self. I don't come across as hard, thereby inviting these vultures in for what they assume in their ego to be easy pickings, the resulting melee is always quite hilarious and they always try to get revenge, always without revealing themselves but never really able to cover up, the same scenario being played out during(hidden) and post(revealed) tour and when you really understand what lenghts Armstrong will go to to stop his sworn enemy from stealing his success, remember that everything Armstrong supposedly stands for is based on an original lie which has to be reinforced constantly to hold back the flood of truth that threatens to overwhelm his Empiric lie, that being that he stands for good and honesty. Liggett is an apologist for him in every way that he can be, we must wonder why, I know why and I believe more will be revealed on that aspect of the tragedy(1) sooner rather than later.

    (1)tragedy: n) a dramatic poem representing an important event or series of events in the life of some person or persons, in which the diction is elevated and the catastrophe melancholy; that kind of drama in which some fatal or mournful event is the main theme; a fatal or mournful event; any event in which human lives are sacrificed; an even causing great suffering or stress.

    When I, as I sometimes do, to get a better grip on a word, checked the dictionary Anglais(Bloombury reference Dictionary) for this word I had no idea that it would describe the TdeF so accurately, it's astoundingly accurate.It's tragic.

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  51. So long as all the money raised winds up going where the donors intended, that's great, but as far as the one-ball wonder himself... it's just a great big steaming pile of meh.

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  52. Smudge1:28 AM

    W.r.t the above comment from Marrock, I would like to add that if you don't like the sick jerk, you dont have to give to his Foundation (if giving to LS reminds you of him, duh). There are plenty of others around, they're doing plenty of good work also. Thankfully, Livestrong does not run a one-man monopoly show. I'd kill myself than see that happen.

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  53. Anonymous3:24 AM

    Who's Lance Armstrong? Was he really dead?

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  54. Tit4Tat4:06 AM

    Velonews fellow John Wilcockson is also a member of this exclusive club/cult. Having written a book with an inflated title, he thinks he's gained some big importance, pity now that he has firmly attached his lips to Lance's bottom. His Tweets are very intersting. Most flattering to LA ofcourse. He's somehow assumed the role of LA's sidekick I suppose...implying that Contador does not have the right to make rash comments to jerkstrong or he won't get the peloton's sympathy. Ha! That's the most ridiculous thing I have heard in a while. http://twitter.com/johnwilcockson

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  55. Chris Valva5:25 AM

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that there is no law of physics that tells you that you can treat someone poorly because you have a few trophies sitting in your cupboard at home.

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  56. Smudge6:39 AM

    What is interesting to see is how Lance has basically closed himself to any sort of scrutinizing media but is using Twitter and his own websites to broadcast what HE WANTS to show. This I think is a way of brainwashing the people who watch HIS SHOW into thinking "wow, this is a great person, look at his lifestyle,look at his money, look at what he's doing for people, I better FOLLOW him WOW..."

    Another fallacy for you, since you brought up the issue of fallacies :)

    Take care.

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  57. Anonymous9:27 AM

    Ron wrote:

    "By your argument of 'equal objectionability', it then seems these people should all have choosen the path of rationality .. i.e, to sit still with their mouths taped up and endure the actions of the man high on the throne. This is not rationality."

    Notwithstanding that the above quote labels "to sit still with their mouths taped up" as rational and irrational at the same time, I have never stated that Armstrong's faults should not be pointed out. I have even referred to some of his behaviour as boorish in previous comments here. I do not see how my argument about "equal objectionability" applies.


    With respect to Walsh's book. I have never read it therefore cannot make any conclusion about it. I have read some short excerpts from it and have read some reviews of it. Based on those I have some suspicions, but again, without having read it, it is not possible for me to (logically) conclude anything about it. I am certain that there are many who dismiss it outright solely based on their unconditional support for Armstrong, just as I am certain that there are many who accept it outright based on their unconditional dislike for Armstrong. Neither the dismal or acceptance (in these cases) is a measure of merit of the book itself.

    One interesting thing about the Walsh book anecdote though is:

    "do you think respected Sunday Times Sports Journalist David Walsh was irrational? All the people who testified in this serious book (with no fancy pictures) were irrational then, I suppose, and the entire work was innuendo?"

    On a much smaller scale this quote exhibits much the same flawed logic as "Armstrong won Le deTouR fRance seven times and survived cancer therefore his behaviour is beyond reproach". With respect to the Walsh book, the idea presented is Walsh is respected and the book has no "fancy pictures" therefore the book is beyond reproach. Now, I really do not think that is the intent of the statement made, but that is certainly how it reads. Just as Armstrong's cycling successes are not a measure of the merits of his behaviour off the bike, Walsh's respect and lack of use of "fancy pictures" is not a measure of the merit of a specific book that he has authored. There is no question that the use of this flawed logic is far more egregious in the Armstrong example than in the Walsh example.

    To the final part of the quote "I suppose, and the entire work was innuendo?", I suspect (based on much of the critisism of Armstrong that I have read - which I stress again is both a small sample and not random) that there is demonisation of Armstrong expressed by the some of the people who "testified" to Walsh. If my suspicion is correct (which stands as wild speculation at this point) it still could not be concluded that "the entire work was innuendo". Maybe a small part of it, but not the entire work. But of course, that also does not mean that the entire work was not innuendo either. That would need to be the result with much more analysis.


    Ron wrote:

    "I guess the son's of Bernard Madoff were then really out demonize their father by reporting to the FBI that he was running the biggest Ponzi Scheme in history."

    The Madoff example is a quite good one. I have no idea if his sons were out to do any such thing. If they have made broad conclusions about him solely based on the Ponzi scheme, then I would say yes. But elsewhere others certainly have. Here is another example of taking the faults of a person and extrapolating it to the person as a whole. This is precisely my point and is the similar thing that many (not all) of the critics of Armstrong do. Which is really no different and no less scary than the criticism (which I claim is equally characterised as the demonisation of him as the support is characterised as the deification of him) of all aspects of Armstrong based on examples of boorish behaviour.


    Cheers!

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  58. Amongst my cycling friends, it is acknowledged that Lance is bent on self promotion and self aggrandizement and perhaps not so good for cycling while also acknowledging his contributions to cancer research. in short, with LA, there are many shades of grey.

    With my non cycling friends (or acquaintances who are newer to cycling), acknowledging that LA is not the best thing since sliced bread is the fastest way to cool a conversation or induce a rapid change of subject.

    I feel like blind LA worship is a newbie and an outsider's phenomenon.

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  59. There's one more sad thing about this cult. It occurs when people escape it. When these trusting people are finally convinced that their hero is nothing of the sort, they decide that every other cyclist must also be bad. For these people there's no gray area - if Lance took drugs every cyclist took drugs - and therefore Lance is kind of resurrected because he sinned no more than the others.

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  60. Anonymous8:31 AM

    Humorous and literate piece thanks for the analysis and wit! It seems to be a phenomena among humans to canonise exceptional people despite evidence of their obvious failings outside their "area of talent" In LA's case recently..ie send astana cars to airport while AC tries to get to the start of TT......or split field and put teammate in gutter to gain 40 secs (Tom Boonens observations)[no I in team :) just the rude finger]

    I guess the final irony is look how many comments including mine.

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  61. Anonymous9:21 AM

    If Lance didn't have an ego, he wouldn't have done any of this, he just found the cause to hitch his ego to.

    If Lance was worthy of adoration, where is his wife? Where is his family? And where are the personal appearance fees he got for race starts this year in the name of furthering the cancer cause in this comeback of his?

    Lance is a user for personal gain, when the Aids Ride returned more to charity than Livestrong did, people rebelled and set up rival rides seeking to get more of the money raised into the hands of the charities it was raised for.

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  62. Anonymous10:08 PM

    What Would Lance Do? LOL

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  63. ah the church of tearing down achievements is in permanent session. It's so true, we nash our teeth in glee at the opportunity to tear another down for daring to achieve what we can't. how sad

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  64. Anonymous9:59 PM

    So what about the other hundreds of athletes out there lying about doping? When are you going to tear them down?

    The simple fact is, it's up to the cycling organization to test for doping. End of story.

    Has Lance tested positive? No. And his back samples don't count (and I shouldn't have to explain to you nitwits why).

    With hundreds and thousands of dollars at stake, you can't blame people for doping. Because some idiot is always going to dope. If one person dopes, EVERYBODY has to dope. The blame rests on the failure of the detection methods.

    Most of you don't even know what "doping" is.

    And the way you talk, you sound like you think Lance Armstrong has no skill on the bike and won strictly because of dope. FAIL.

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  65. REPLY TO ANON ABOVE :

    So what about the other hundreds of athletes out there lying about doping? When are you going to tear them down?

    The simple fact is, it's up to the cycling organization to test for doping. End of story.


    The post is about Lance fans using illogical statements to attack others who present them with doping evidence for Lance Armstrong. Not sure what your rant is about.

    Has Lance tested positive? No. And his back samples don't count (and I shouldn't have to explain to you nitwits why).

    Same old argument, this has failed plenty of times and addressed many times by others.

    With hundreds and thousands of dollars at stake, you can't blame people for doping. Because some idiot is always going to dope. If one person dopes, EVERYBODY has to dope. The blame rests on the failure of the detection methods.

    Most of you don't even know what "doping" is.


    We know what lying about doping is. You must know a great deal about doping. Please educate us. This must be valuable information we wouldn't know.

    And the way you talk, you sound like you think Lance Armstrong has no skill on the bike and won strictly because of dope. FAIL.

    This convincingly proves to me, that you did not read the post, to which you are commenting. No mention of his skill on the bike has been mentioned. Please revert back to the drawing board and address the issues relavant to the article above. Thank you and good luck.

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  66. Anonymous12:55 AM

    Yes, the comments of the Armstrong fanboys are silly and shallow. To me, they are not worth the bother to respond. I can excuse them somewhat because the average Armstrong fan has little knowledge of professional cycling and what little they do have is filtered through the hagiograpy of Versus and a media that is equally ignorant.

    However I find the "haters" much more pathetic. Wherever you go, whether it's a forum on Cyclingnews, or Velonews, or even a blog like this, the tone of the "anti-Armstrong" comments is always the same--that of a junior high school girl upset that she is not part of the "popular" group.

    It goes way beyond dislike of Armstrong's unrelenting PR efforts and questionable comments/actions; it even goes beyond the histrionic allegations of his alleged doping. It is more like the neurotic whining of someone who still can't get over the fact that the cheerleaders back in high school preferred the football players.

    What I find frustrating is that, even people I respect in the media are absolutely clueless and so any interview with Armstrong (example: his recent appearance with Jon Stewart) never goes beyond banal platitudes. And those in the "cycling media" (Walsh, Kimmage, et al), the ones who could ask some tough, insightful questions, are so caught up in gossip, conspiracy, or their own personal "crusades" that they are virtually incoherent.

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  67. However I find the "haters" much more pathetic. Wherever you go, whether it's a forum on Cyclingnews, or Velonews, or even a blog like this, the tone of the "anti-Armstrong" comments is always the same--that of a junior high school girl upset that she is not part of the "popular" group.

    It goes way beyond dislike of Armstrong's unrelenting PR efforts and questionable comments/actions; it even goes beyond the histrionic allegations of his alleged doping. It is more like the neurotic whining of someone who still can't get over the fact that the cheerleaders back in high school preferred the football players.

    What I find frustrating is that, even people I respect in the media are absolutely clueless and so any interview with Armstrong (example: his recent appearance with Jon Stewart) never goes beyond banal platitudes. And those in the "cycling media" (Walsh, Kimmage, et al), the ones who could ask some tough, insightful questions, are so caught up in gossip, conspiracy, or their own personal "crusades" that they are virtually incoherent.


    Dear..nameless,

    This blog seeks to bring to the forefront a rational discussion of Armstrong's huge corruption scheme and other illogical attitudes in sport. That's not the blog's speciality but whenever I do get absolutely sick of something, I do write about it. I keep the comment section open to anyone from anywhere in the world to participate in, so it's equally open to haters and saddle sniffers. Which is why you have the liberty to express your feelings.

    Now, the tone of anti-Armstrong comments is directly proportional to the amount of corruption going on in cycling. Armstrong is one of the ring leaders of this affair and if it frustrating for you to just sit there and watch these people complain against him, I don't feel it is any less frustrating for them to watch Armstrong behave the way he does - lie, covering up huge mistakes, advance an over-inflated ego through PR campaigns, and make mega fortunes while doing the same (not to mention shamelessly beating down other people in the media). If you call that "success" or good fortune or good leadership, this must be a pathetically twisted world we live in. We're equally frustrated as you are, and if there is a solution to this, it is to unite and voice a call for justice together. You must either with them or with the people who can think rationally. If you are the latter, join us and debate, exchange ideas, ask the right questions. Your opinions are needed in articles such as this, and ignore the "hater's" comments. Come tell us what you feel.

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  68. I really don't see Armstrong all that differently from the way I see other professional athletes. Like other folks, he's got his positive qualities and his negative qualities. I really don't see the big deal. There are lots of allegations out there, but so far nobody has proof of anything except his personality.

    How can someone be a professional athlete and not be a little bit cocky, anyway?

    As far as the PR he gets, most of that is not from him. Most of it comes from the companies who want to make a few bucks off his success as an athlete. Again, no different from any other professional athlete.

    As for the whole Contador thing, the guys don't get along. Neither one has made that a secret. I don't hold anything against either guy with respect to that. They have an awful lot in common, which probably has a lot to do with why they don't get along. But Contador's not 'local' so I (and many others) don't follow him. Furthermore, he doesn't speak my native language well, so it's not easy to follow the guy. But I respect his accomplishments. I would have liked to see him and Lance on different teams so they could really compete instead of having the team officials holding them back. And sure, the margin would have been greater in Contador's favor. But such is sports. Older athletes fade until they retire and new guys take over.

    All that said, I am also a cancer survivor. I beat leukemia this year. I feel the need to give back to cancer research and other patients. I've bought some LiveStrong gear since recovering. I helped raise $1,000 for men's cancers last month with Movember, and I've donated directly to a family with a little boy who has the same cancer I just survived.

    Regardless of what Lance does during bike races, I will support LiveStrong for its cancer research/support message (right now they're working for global acceptance of cancer as an illness in many countries where cancer patients are ostracized). But I will also support other initiatives and charities like cancer research for young adults and leukemia research.

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  69. Thank you @Mtbikernate. Comments are valued here from either spectrum - whether you support Lance Armstrong or not. I'm ready to live with your outlook on him. What sort of cancer did you have to deal with btw?

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  70. Anonymous9:22 PM

    Defend this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQsqS-mY3jI

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  71. Ron,
    You start out ridiculing the efforts people put into forums. But you've got a wild one going here, yourself included. Then you go into religious dogma - no time in my day for such rubbish. As a mechanical engineer, how can you go on about such nonsense and ignore data. As an ME myself, I've always lived by the motto "In God We Trust, All Others Bring Data.
    Craig

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Thank you. I read every single comment.