I bought in, silly me. Hook, line and Livestrong.|
Next, someone is going to tell me John Wayne was Canadian.
I wore yellow Livestrong wristbands from the day they reached store shelves until they stripped the last of Lane Armstrong's Tour de France titles from him.
I laid one in the casket of a buddy who passed away from cancer. If yellow was slimming, I would have had a closet full of yellow Livestrong shirts.
For years, I naively believed Lance Armstrong legitimately won seven Tour de France titles. And I defended him every chance I got.
Lance -- in my sad and misguided eyes -- was an American hero.
That, though, is no longer my belief. Armstrong reportedly came clean -- kind of -- in taped interviews with Oprah Winfrey (I have no idea why she was picked), which were scheduled to air Thursday night and tonight on her TV network.
Since I'm writing this before the interviews have aired, I don't know details of his confession, but advance word is he tells Oprah he cheated, that he used performance-enhancing drugs to be the best bike dude in the history of all bike dudes. Apparently, the only thing missing from their interview, was Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens throwing themselves at the feet of public opinion.
For years, in my world, Armstrong was different. I believed in addition to being the best bike rider in the world, Armstrong had a special mission.
Silly me, again.
Lance was different because he beat cancer. Lance kicked cancer's bee-hind, trounced it, dragged it behind the back tire of his bike. Then he hopped on his bike and peddled -- like the wind -- his post-cancer self through the mountains of France. Along the way, he dusted every bike dude who challenged him. Seven straight times. Not once or three times, but seven.
He did movies poking fun at kicking cancer's butt. He organized rides for cancer patients and cancer survivors, and was an inspiration for thousands. His story and message were so inspirational Nike gave him a foundation.
He also became famous and rich.
Talk that Armstrong had "help'' winning the Tour de France always came up. I took it as jealousy, because he always passed post-race drug tests, however pedestrian they might have been. Lance was clean; he was a cancer survivor; and the world outside the United States couldn't deal with that.
The fact Armstrong defended himself -- suing and winning claims against those who said he cheated -- made me believe in him even more.
Lance, to me, was legit.
What a fool I was.
Truth is, he was the cheating ringleader. He made millions off the belief his greatness was achieved through hard work, grit and an unmatched determination. I always wondered, but refused to believe, he cheated, but now I know. You know. We know.
At least I have the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy left.
Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.