As referenced in the 2012 V-Moment of the year article and ensuing discussion, it was a most Vawesome year for cycling. It’s been hypothesized here and on cycling sites with more integrity that the fantastic racing of 2012 may be, at least in part, attributed to a cleaner peloton. Unless you watched the Tour de France you’d think the days of foregone conclusions and three week coronations are quickly becoming a thing of the past. It is in this vein we bring to you the Anti-V Moment of 2012: Lance Armstrong’s ceasing to fight the charges against him.
Now usually, we try our best not to delve into the seedy side of cycling. There is just way too much cool about our sport to focus our collective energy and attention on asshats. Besides, we’ve got bikes to ride. But the COTHO’s public announcement that he would no longer fight, er, defend himself against allegations of systematic doping, money laundering, blackmail, intimidation, and international douchebaggery has to be the biggest Anti-V moment of the year, if not in the history of pro cycling.
The COTHO could have feasibly taken one of three tacks as the winds of pressure, evidence, and public opinion continued to blow against his house of cards. Tack one would have been to continue lying, bribing, and digging an ever deepening hole as he steadfastly proclaimed his innocence. This obviously hadn’t been working for the past 10-odd years but at least it allowed him to maintain his base of supporters. Even as it became more difficult for him to maintain the façade he still had a sizable group of survivors, apologists, journalists, and mis-guided cycling fans who believed.
Tack two would have been to come clean (pardon the pun) and admit to the whole sordid mess he created but he didn’t have the ball to do this either. Who knows what his reasons are for not being honest? Best guesses are he’s rationalizing a set of excuses ranging from mitigating his financial liability, evading criminal implications, and blaming the corruptness of the sport. Maybe he’s trying to save face in some twisted way. But for as cliché as Tyler Hamilton even admitted in his tell-all; the truth will set you free. The COTHO could have stood in front of those microphones and cameras and said “Hey, you know what, I doped. I made some poor choices and lied to everybody and for that I’m deeply sorry.” Had he done so his detractors would probably still be his detractors and he would have given his supporters a legitimate reason to continue supporting him but at least everybody could say he fessed up and there is some integrity in doing that.
Alas, he took the Anti-V tack. He stopped defending himself, er, lying without admitting to anything and seems to be hoping to just fade into the background. In essence, he’s taking his toys and going home. What’s striking about this is that it is contrary to what we’ve come to understand about the guy. If anything, we’ve come to know him as a fighter, both in life and on the road. But this latest, and hopefully last maneuver was just plain weak. (Notice I’ve added the categories of “Evanescent Riders” and “In Memoriam” to this article in addition to “Awards”. The first two are much more fitting.)
Perhaps it belies the true nature of the man. A nature that involves intimidation, serial emotional and physical aggression and even violence. A nature that includes socially isolating his victims, arguing them into submission, and propagating rumors, gossip, and lies about them to sway public opinion in his favor. A nature that involves amplifying the mistakes of others in order to strengthen his own self-image. A nature whereby there are many innocent bystanders who are too fearful of repercussions to come forward themselves. The nature of a man who may be trying to compensate for his own insecurities and feed his own narcissism and megalomania. The nature of a simple bully who ultimately shows himself to be a big pussy.