On the occasion of the ultimate, final destruction of the Lance Armstrong myth, perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the current reality is the continued, mystifying refusal by the peloton – not to mention Armstrong’s principal sponsor, Nike – to denounce the Texan’s now confirmed cheating.
Fundamentalist blogospheric followers of the Cult of Lance continuing to defend their patron saint are as unsurprising as they are tragic. That the somewhat similar attitude of tolerance appears to be emanating from some of cycling’s high profile figures is profoundly worrying; with Samuel Sanchez and Paolo Savoldelli two of the most high profile names to come out in tentative support of Armstrong today. That Britain’s own Bradley Wiggins failed to offer an unequivocal condemnation of Armstrong on Sky News was also rather unfortunate.
Wiggins’ coronation to British sporting royalty this summer has given him an almost bulletproof status; praised unhesitatingly for being a winner, a hero and cool; rather than questioned for his apparently evolving principles regarding doping. An almost perfect parallel with the near universal and irreproachable acclaim that one Lance Armstrong was previously regarded with, in fact.
Read the transcript of Wiggins’ Sky News interview and notice the outright failure to condemn Armstrong, in addition to the attempt to make the Armstrong era – generation EPO – sound like a distant memory. “A lot of this stuff happened nearly 15 years ago” opined Wiggins.
Well actually no, Wiggins was beaten to the podium by Armstrong at the 2009 Tour. A mere three years ago. Did Wiggins really not know, or at least suspect, that Armstrong was engaged in dubious practices when the American bested him for 3rd place that year? However, much like the occasionally hypocritical practices and positions recently adopted by Team Sky, it is doubtful that Wiggins will be pressed firmly on the issue of how much he knew about Armstrong and when he knew it.
One would be forgiven for expecting an unconditional statement of support for USADA and a denunciation of the cancer still ailing the sport from the Tour De France champion and a formerly outspoken advocate of clean cycling. Where is that rage that used to burn incandescently against those who seeked to destroy the sport? Where is the flagrant condemnation of Armstrong’s actions from the most recognisable athlete in the sport? Sorry, but we’re waiting and the sport needs this, Bradley.