Let’s imagine for a second that 10/2 never happens. Armstrong—the twitchy, track-suited, wannabe frat boy captured in the video below—never gets cancer. The sniffle he has here is just a cold. He goes on to have a good career, wins some classics, buys some cars, and retires, either after catching a dope positive, or getting away scot-free—it’s up to you.
Had that been the case, you wouldn’t be reading this. The bike racing and riding public in America would be a mere shadow of its current self, and millions of cancer sufferers would still view their disease as a crippling, unrecoverable plague. If, through some luck, you did still follow cycling, you’d probably consider yourself an Armstrong fan; he’d be a lone, underachieving American hero in your obscure, European sport.
Objectively speaking, there’s no way to say that the end result of the cancer, the stepped-up “preparation”, the work with Ferrari, the personality cult, and the Livestrong brand were bad things—for the sport or for the world. So why, then, is there such a groundswell in the cycling community to see Armstrong fall? Why do the haters hate?
I don’t claim to have the same motivations as everyone, but the fact is I don’t really care that Armstrong cheated. I don’t have a problem with him being a complex character, at once guilty and an inspiration. On occasion, I even think he did a pretty good job racing the bike.
But what I find a constant source of consternation and embarrassment, is that despite all the Tour wins, and millions of dollars for cancer, and other accomplishments, under it all, Armstrong still comports himself as the gel-haired bro-caricature captured in this video.
The legal battles, the past-prime comeback, nobodies on Twitter, the heckler battling, the Chair You’re Sitting In, the increasingly transparent denials, trying to “win” assembling a legal team the way he tries to “win” collecting art—for a man who should have nothing to prove, Armstrong’s inability to gracefully accept even the tiniest of slights and compulsion to continually pad his legacy is pathetic.
Had Armstrong been a lesser rider, it could be overlooked—we all have flaws. But he isn’t a lesser rider. He is the public face of cycling, and has a far larger pull than the sport itself ever will. By all accounts, Armstrong dominated almost a decade of unsustainable rule-breaking, and as the pre-eminent rider of that era, the onus is on him to simply admit what the rest of the world already knows.
The sad part is that because Lance has so fortified himself in the myth of his performance, the consequences of a confession now will likely be harsh. His legacy will be tarnished. Cancer research may suffer. He might even go to jail. And that’s not entirely fair. But celebrity is a double-edged sword, and for the hundreds of millions he’s raised on his reputation, he owes the world the courtesy of owning up to his transgressions.
So until that moment comes, I’m viewing the Fall of Fortress Armstrong with a certain satisfaction. Not with any particular malice toward the man, or for the heady glee of watching a tyrant hang, but as an audience member at an Elizabethan play. Armstrong is our tragic hero, and his fatal flaw is the monomaniacal focus that had until now served him so well. Unable to account for it, he’ll continue stacking denial upon denial, until the whole house of cards tumbles in a familiar, inescapable denoument.
thoughts on “Why The Haters Hate”
Let’s face it, Livestrong helps Lance sleep at night. And the irony is: cancer research will never find a “cure” because it’s a disease associated with the processed foods, pollution, and sedentary lifestyles of industrialized societies. Much like Armstrong’s legend, it’s synonymous with unsustainability.
I think he’s hated so much 1st because he’s a flaming asshole, going out of his way to utterly crush anyone who so much as disagrees with him, and 2. Because so many of us believed in him and wanted to keep believing in him, but he betrayed us and now his denials heap insult upon insult, injury upon injury.
If he’d been a cheat, but a good guy who treated people well, he’d be far less hated.
I find the terminology used here, “haters” (with it’s dialectical twin, “fans” — or is it “lovers?”) to be infantile, and it lowers the level of the debate: from Elizabethan plays to kindergarten dispute in one fell swoop.
I suppose it is half ironic, half strategic; by using the terminology of the ‘masses’ (i.e. the cycling press and their readership) one will presumably avoid scaring them off and consequently get them to read this and raise their consciousness. Voila! There’s something of the Michael Moore modus operandi to this post. And why not?
Let’s also add that it is an open secret that Lance cheated and therefore every day he is not in jail spells the moral lesson to the world and to all wanna be sportsmen out there that cheating; brazen lying; mean-spiritedness; and shameless use of tragedies (hos own and that of others), not only all work: these practices are a pre-requisite for immense success, wealth and adulation! What a narrative! And it’s back to high art. My preferred comparison would be Maupassant’s Bel-Ami — now there was a cheat who made out like a bandit…
I dont think the US government would care about Lance Armstrong if it were not for the federal funding of his doping. The money trail will be his down fall, congress raised the price of stamps three times, during the time Lance Armstrong was in their employ.
Great post. You expressed many of the conflicting feelings I have about l’affair Armstrong. In large part this brings into focus the problem of being a fan and of needing our favorites to be perfect. Well, they arent, and why should we expect them to be? I think the big issue Armstrong has is not that he chose to dope, but that he chose to deny that he doped so vigorously. Whether he did or did not, he has defined himself has a non-doper and now his legacy depends, in large part, on whether he is what he says he is. i think it is interesting to compare the reputations of Pantani and Armstrong. Most cycling fans I know love Pantani, even he did dope. Not so with Armstrong, and in fact the biggest reason for people cite, most especially his spokesmen, for believing him is his Livestrong work, not his cycling accomplishments.
as the saying goes…Haters Gonna Hate
Good post Cosmo.
I dislike Lance not for his cheating but for his disgraceful displays of arrogance towards Filippo Simeoni (when he chased him into the break) and Alberto Contador (petulant admonishment of his Astana team mate and defending TdF champion for not being a team player and trying to win the worlds biggest stage race).
His arrogance knows no bounds and he will go to the grave before he publicly admits to doping.
I agree. Lance is a bully who truly believes he can do whatever he wants and force the rest of us onto accepting his version of reality. Enough.
My wife loves him. She buys into the crafted image. I’ve told her many times that I don’t think you would like the real person behind that image. Friends inside and outside of the cycling community have asked me many times what I think of him. I’ve told them all the same thing-I don’t respect him and I don’t think he cares for anyone but himself. I don’t care about the wealth, the fame, the victories or even the PED use that got him everything. I care that he has threatened, litigated and intimidated honest people who dared to speak the truth. It’s one thing to live a lie, but it’s an entirely different thing to ruin others lives/livelihoods so you can live your lie.
Oh, boy, where do I begin? Yeah, sure he’s an asshole, but which multiple TdF-winner isn’t? Having said that, he’s taken asshole-ism to an astonishing new level. And maybe him turning into the evil twin of the guy depicted in the vid is due to his cancer. People with braintrauma can change character.
The main reason I dislike him is that he’s the Evil Genius behind the doping rings of his post-cancer teams. And it’s not the doping per se, it’s the corruption that he has more or less institutionalized. that corruption is still present today, as you can see from UCI’s reactions to the Landis and Hamilton confessions. And the then-president of the UCI, Hein Verbruggen, boasing Lance Armstrong as a prime example of dope-free sports? Even the ATP isn’t that silly to promote Nadal as such….
I am appreciative that he did the Tours, that US media took notice of cycling, and that we get some coverage here in the states as a result of him (like him or not – I am a “not”). I am not surprised in the least that he doped, that he fought tooth and nail to convince people he was clean (he has tons to lose, so he fights hard). I find his competitive nature impressive (he is a fighter). I am saddened that the UCI may be involved in the fraud but could care less what ultimately happens to LA. Race results won’t be re-written and past podiums are not any cleaner then this bozo, but the organizing body is clearly looking corrupt – so how do we move forward?
Hater does not describe me. Jaded is closer. Cycling can’t continue to afford these hits and if the TDS positive turns out to be true, the sport is in big trouble.
“Cancer research may suffer” ??????
NIH budget per year for ONLY breast cancer was 700 million plus
Total fundraising over ALL years of Livestrong charity rides: 60 million.
I think we will be OK without L’armstrong…
PS: “Do you think you’re going to win LBL one day?”
Yet another lie 🙂 I don’t even think that he ever entered LBL again
I think there should be a rule that any reporting on cycling politics, etc should include a Shakespeare analogy.
Armstrong is a liar a cheat and a bully. He does nothing unless there is personal monetary gain for himself. People have donated to his ‘charities’ not understanding that only a portion of their money does actually go to the ‘charity’. The so called ‘expenses’ if looked at closely disclose the true picture. His cycling career was built on doping and he used it to build a myth which, sadly, people believed.
I only hope that the Federal investigators take him down and that ALL his ‘assets’ are stripped.
Lance Inc. has generated some pretty hefty revenue off that word.
Someone help me out here, what is it that Livestrong does that is so special? That wasn’t being done before and isn’t still being done by other Orgs? Well, except for the redirects from .org to .com of course, oh and adding “value” to the brand.
And don’t even get me started about his role in cycling. Contador has already shown himself to be twice the Champion Lance could ever hope to be….
Doped or not, he was the most badass bike racer we’ve ever seen. No one else has been able to win at will for such an extended period of time. My admiration of him is rooted in that. I loved him pre-cancer because of the way he just went out and tried to win races, strategy be damned.
I’ve known many successful people, and for many of them the formula for winning is this single-mindedness to win at everything. Some people are just wired that way; without it they would be average performers.
At this point we all know with absolute certainty that Lance can be an a**hole, and with a moderate to high degree of certainty that he doped. Fine. What bothers me even more is what Floyd and Tyler are doing. They decided to dope and got caught. They should take their medicine like men. There’s no reason for them to publicly drag anyone else down with them. As bad as Lance may be, I see them as far worse.
Great insight Cosmo – In an era when everyone doped he was the best of the best (even at doping). This whole thing has the feel of a witch-hunt which does not quite sit well with me, but his arrogance and denials will ultimately catalyze his downfall
Those riders were subpoenaed to testify in front of a Grand Jury. Maintaining the great lie would have meant perjuring themselves and doing jail time. Only an idiot would do that. Is that what you’re suggesting they should’ve done?
They have taken their medicine – reputations destroyed, wealth lost – but maybe they’ve begun to regain some self-respect after all the lies they had to tell to their families for so long.
Soon it’ll be Armstrong’s turn to take his medicine. And what strong medicine that will be.
@Dennis i enjoyed your comment as it fits my POV and as i said elsewhere ALL the racers can plead the 5th !
Doping is Sporting Fraud and i would happily see ALL racers locked in their home for 4years and forced to return several levels lower at the end of their suspension and aLSO not allowed to work in ANY sport related activity whilst suspended !
Blogged to this effect for years and know many racers who agree with my POV and would happily ostracize “dopers” . You can choose your friends and unfortunately circumstances force racers to accept work with teams whether they agree with the team philosophy is another story .
Hey marcool , open your eyes ! Lance has inspired people to get together and raise money like very few others have been able to do , because you are suspicious of his motives does not mean that you can throw mud !
As regards Margaret’s comment , i did a post on the comparison of Livestrong to another well known “cancer charity” AND they were more expensive in some areas to administer ! No way to say what has transpired in the last two years BUT i bet that Livestrong is taking in more money and the percentages are even more favourable !
SUM TOTAL regardless of whether Lance is a SAint or otherwise is that more people have benefited than suffered since he set up LIVESTRONG !
Tall Poppies are targets and in Australia i worked with Org.s run by Bond , Holmes A’Court and Elliott and all those guys despite their achievements had their names dragged through the mud by the jealous and meanminded .
Those wishing to toss their pennies worth should head on over to CNF where the mushroom farm is looking for more growth !
Well, I hate him for having to listen to my vegan friend espouse the b.s. that it was the superiority of LA’s vegan diet that made him win – even after I explained he was beating known dopers and it was pretty certain he was doping too. For that alone he should hang.
I’m going to go one further and say that not only do i NOT care ( like you Cosmo ) about Lance’s past guilt or innocence, after reading most of these comments as terribly misinformed, i no longer care what others think about him either.
No, they should testify as required by law, but then leave the grand jury room and keep their mouths shut (as they are supposed to do under the law). I would have far more respect for Floyd and Tyler if they took their lumps without turning their own confessions into an attack on someone else.
As much as cycling has grown in popularity in the US since Lance, it is much bigger and more popular in Europe even before him, so with the aftermath of his “donating” money to the UCI and I don’t know who else, the UCI, and cycling’s popularity in both sides of the pond will freefall thanks to his antics, doping, negating it, cheating, lying and bullying.
It is also very sad that there is not a lot anybody can do about it, because they can’t “do a Landis” and upgrade the runner-up of the Tours he won to first place, because Ullrich, Basso, Beloki, and Zulle all have a spotty past. Probably only Kloden doesn’t have one, or at least not one that we know of yet.
On top of it, it also gives the real bad but true impression that just like Tyler and Floyd, in the end, Lance will have to admit something to a certain degree and that really reflects the double moral of people who throw the stone and hide their hands and think they won’t get caught. I feel really disappointed for having rooted for a jerk and master liar who will soon be issuing a letter or press conference trying to regain some trust which he alone has thrown away.
He’s fortunate that we don’t live in the 1600’s because he’d be tied to a pole and burned with all his wristbands. I’ll have to do with throwing away my US Postal jersey.
So why, then, is there such a groundswell in the cycling community to see Armstrong fall?
because I care about the truth. I am not willing to play fast and loose with the truth. My committment to the truth is not negotiable.
it amazes me that there are so many petty little people who feel so wronged that LA doped, won a few bike races and was “nasty” to some people while there are still people in the world who actually cause harm to people on a large scale be it economic or physical.
If anyone wants to view the breakdown of Livestrong’s costs instead of making assumptions about its efficiency or inefficiency, it’s available here via Charity Navigator:
You’ve see this, right?
Armstrong will be collateral damage in the war that needs to be waged against the UCI. They’re responsible for this mess. Doping control must be handled by an outside agency.
Where to begin? I agree with @Mark/post 26.
It’s comical that so many haters/judgers/whatevers are so pompous. How can you all personalize this issue so much into a hating a man so much. Do you all realize what you are talking about here?
Most people here probably have little or no association with the UCI or industry such that your personal lives have been undermined by LA’s or any sport dopers, for that matter.
In the grand scheme of things, whether LA’s an a-hole, whether Livestrong is good or bad, it shouldn’t result in boiling pot of hate and ill-wishing.
The world is loaded with far worse people, industries, governments and business… children are hungry, clean water is a problem for millions, and on, and on.
Oh, right, we’re the well-to-do ego-centric culture of blubbering idiots with time to waist hating on bike rider with an attitude.
Following your logic, presumably we should ignore the bulk of wrongdoing in society, unless it’s of the extreme variety. That’d be an “interesting” world to live in, I’m sure…
Look. Armstrong, through his recovery, comeback, victories and charitable foundation has set himself up as perhaps the ultimate contemporary role model of conquering adversity through relentless determination. And according to him, he did it totally clean of drugs. He’s become an inspiration to millions; for many, at a time of their life when, through disease, they are at the lowest. And he’s an example (moral and otherwise) to millions of youngsters as to how they should conduct themselves, and what can be achieved.
If it turns out he doped in the manner alleged by Tyler H (and others), it means that Armstrong’s story would have been founded on a massive lie, one which he would have perpetuated and maintained for a decade, and aggressively gone after anyone who questioned it.
What you seem to be saying is this: it’s okay to cheat and lie your way to massive success, and cheat and lie your way to becoming an inspiration for impressionable sick and young people, because at the end of the day, there are still hungry children in the world, and other bad stuff, so who cares.
Well maybe if more people lived their lives honestly and morally, and led by example, the world would be a whole lot better a place.
Then by all means, please get out on the streets and start parading for one man’s fall in the name of the millions of inspired.
A cyclist vs. dictators with murder crimes, for example are on the same level in your eyes. Only in America do we have the luxury of worrying about someone getting their feelings because a guy LA is tough around the edges or denied claims like anyone else would have done (Bill C. didn’t have “sexual relations” and George W “never inhaled”). So now poor Jim’s life is in ruin now because a cyclist purportedly told a lie…how will he ever recover?
You and all the other big fish out there with hook marks in your mouth can keep falling victim to the media who are the only real benefactors – selling a story with little significance to peoples lives.
Plain and simple he is a liar!!!!! Yes it is a big world and people do this, but… I drank the cool aid like many and even traveled to watch 2003 tour, great experience but the point is he isn’t what he said is is. To me people make mistakes, if you own up to them ok move on. The fact is he won’t do this so I hope he is taken out back and gets everything he deserves. The posts here where people say he was so dominate?…. make me wonder what the case would be had he not doped. I always, always defended his No Positive test result as the proof he had to be clean or he would have to be the dumbest person on the planet to continue the lie after all the spec, believing myself that no one in the world could really be that dumb…. so maybe those who say he is some amazing are right…. the one title I think he has earned is that of the stupidest person the planet has ever scene. I don’t know how it could have been done but he did it… congrats Lance.
Great post, nice one. Look – Lance is arrogant and abrasive a lot of the time and he may well have cheated. But it is undeniable that he has done more for our great sport than any other person. Also, doping (which he is probably guilty of) only gets you so far… you still need to have a crazy amount of talent to with the Tour 7 times. Yes, he most likely doped – but in my eyes he’s still a champion.
What I find so very hard to believe most of the people that posted above act like they know Lance personally. Get over yourself and get on YOUR bike and ride! Maybe even raise money for a local charity ride. If you spent the same amount of hatred energy on riding and raising money for a cause that is important to you – we would all be better off.
Lance, at the very least, is a great example of transcending the sport. That 60 million dollars is important and no, we can’t do without it.
Multiple TdF winner who is NOT an a-hole? I’ve spoken in-person with Greg LeMond many times. Based on my experiences HE is the polar opposite of an a-hole. As the BigTex fiasco spirals out of control, LeMond looks more and more like he was right all along. But don’t look for him to gloat about it, he’s too nice a guy for that.
I sort of feel sorry for BigTex. He’s a fatherless, uneducated punk from Texas whose mother spoiled him rotten. Kids from that background rarely turn out well, no matter how much money they collect or how many races they win. He’s been used as much as he’s used others. In contrast to Marco Pantani, BigTex has built a huge empire based on lies and fights like a rabid dog to protect it. Pantani wasn’t super bright either but off the bike he had none of the ruthlessness and greed displayed by BigTex. I think that’s why he’s still loved by cycling fans worldwide….and a tragic death (like Coppi) doesn’t hurt in the “hearts of fans” category either.
What is this great good that Armstrong has done for our sport, other than sell more bikes for Trek? I DARE you to find a single measure of cycling success and show concrete correlation between it and Armstrong. Perhaps you are defining success differently than I:
Is the number of fatasses on multi-use paths in USPS/Disco/RS jerseys your metric of success?
Or maybe it’s the number of little yellow bands sold to support livestrong.org/.com/.org/.com.
Or is it the number of news stories dealing with cycling (oh wait, they all have to do with LANCE DOPING now, but hey, that’s not really his fault, is it?)
Or maybe it’s the number of ass-licking LA stories written by the hagiographers over at VeloNews (I’m talking to you, Zinn and Wilcockson).
What great good for cycling has Lance ever done that didn’t also coincide with his own “great good?”
Post #31 – @ Portlandia writes bearing truth but most refuse to look in the mirror. Cycling is in a very sad and corrosive state and those that vilify by spinning the hate can take full responsibility for that. You know who you are.
There was cycling long before Lance and there will be cycling long after he is out of the news. But it’s been great entertainment so far and I get to watch lots more cycling on TV here in the States because of him. I would have loved to watch Lemond win in HD! The biggest negative I think he has brought to the sport is all the so called experts that spew on blogs like this. I will be glad when cycling falls back out of fashion and only those who really love the sport will remain and we can get back to the racing.
I don’t understand why questioning the legitimacy of LA’s achievements on the bike makes me a “hater”.
I don’t hate him. I feel sorry for him. It seems likely he will be exposed as a cheat. If so his life is built on a lie.
It can’t be much fun living a lie every day. Telling a story that you know is built on fraudulent sporting achievements day after day must be very draining.
So I don’t hate him, I worry about his state of mind and what exposure as a cheat might do to him.
@skippy you mention a few failed Aussie businessmen. Bond and Elliott would not have had “their names dragged through the mud” if they obeyed the law. Bond’s I’m a sick old man who can’t remember defence was pathetic. In both cases they acted illegally and as a result many investors in their companies lost money.
I couldn’t have said or thought it better, Cosmo. To share the journey with Lance is a lot like going on a thrill ride. I am magnetised to it and yet I feel sensations of repulsion while engaged with it. Ultimately I’m left wondering whether I should have taken that ride in the first place.
Regardless of the outcome of imminent legalities, his legacy will be paradoxically divisive within all factions who’ve ever followed Lance. From cycling enthusiasts to cancer survivors- you will not be afforded a fence position when evaluating your feelings towards this man’s legacy..
Its Lance Apology Bingo!
I got into cycling through triathlon, not Lance, so I do not need to have him be a cheating scumbag to have enjoyed cycling.
and YES I know he was a triathlete when he was younger. People thought he was a prick then too.
Does anyone even dare to assume he did not use drugs?
Even the guys who are supporting him say he ‘probably did dope’
Talk about a** holes, look closer to home.
If I am proven wrong then shoot me down, but until then how about the non haters having some balls and supporting this guy.
Now I sit back and get ready to be ripped apart by the mob including the person who states LA is ‘the stupidest person the world has ever scene’, who must be a very close second if they do not understand the difference between seen and scene!
I hate the fact that your right ……Lance Armstrong has done a lot for the growth of cycling in America and I am in awe at all the great work Lance and his team do for the fight against Cancer.
This doesn’t mean that Lance and other shouldn’t be punished if they did cheat in their sport.
And again I feel sadness that Lance potentially won’t be able to follow a political career fully due to the scandal of cheating with drugs in his sport.
I think he would have made a great President, I guess he could still have a go at politics even if he is found guilty of taking EPO in his cycling Career. I suppose he could put himself up as a candidate who wants to legalise drugs in the USA.
What drives me crazy is that the UCI let drug cheats back into the sport of cycling. There can be lesser degrees of cheating with banned substances but to allow a rider back into the sport that blood dopes or has taken EPO or its new derivations is WRONG.
Allowing drug cheats back into the sport sets up a culrure in the professional ranks that taking EPO etc is a career choice. Yeah you might get caught but the chances of great wins and wealth are huge while on EPO.
Apart from the fact that cheating with drugs is dangerous to the longterm health of an athlete you have to put yourself in the mindset of a professional cyclist who’s career is short and yet extremely hard. Ask yourself wouldn’t you be tempted even just a little bit to cheat when so many of your fellow team mates and other members of the peloton are cheating.
Think for a while it’s coming up to the reselection phase for the Pro ranks usually in July when the Tour de France is happening. You haven’t had a win all year, at home you have a wife and two kids that you support. You are in danger of not getting a contract for next season if you don’t get a result. You have bags of talent but all around you fellow cyclist in the pro peloton seem to be getting faster and faster, guys you could beat with little effort are now so much faster than you. From an early age you were brought up to win, your natural ability made winning inevitable in the amateur ranks and along the way your whole self worth has become wrapped up in winning bike races.
Time is ticking on your career what are you going to do? Not cheat and leave the sport broke and with nothing but a few memories which mean nothing to anybody else but you. Or cheat win races and have all the glory and on retiring get a nice job in the sport of cycling maybe as a TV commentator or team Boss earning just as much money if not more after your cycling career.
If you get caught not to worry two years out of the sport then your back in and whats more you can write a book about your cheating past and how awful you feel about it.
The governing bodies of Cycling like the UCI need to protect Pro cyclist from themselves and set up a life ban for cyclist caught cheating with drugs like EPO.
I don’t blame cyclist for cheating I do blame the governing bodies like the UCI for allowing it to continue ……….. and I am disgusted when they allow cheats back into our sport. it sends the wrong message to any young person that cheating is the way forward in sport as the punishment isn’t strong enough.
As for Lance …….well things are staking up against him now, Maybe it would have been better if Greg Lemond had been the only American winner of the Tour de France to date ?
Maybe in a while we will find that Greg actually still is the only American to truly win the Tour de France.
OH and by the way.
A few people above have been criticising Floyd and Tyler for telling “their truth” about Lance.
To say that Floyd and Tyler shouldn’t tell the truth is outrageous !
It is the underlying problem within cycling that people that know don’t tell the truth about the drug problem in the professional ranks.
I can only thank them for coming forward and telling the truth, ok maybe they didn’t have a choice but they still are making history and helping change the way people think.
Paul Kimmage one time ex professional cyclist for me started the Ball rolling with his book rough ride. Maybe without the likes of him the sport would have just turned a blind eye to drugs with even more young athletes would have died due to the effects of EPO etc.
The only way for the culture of cycling to improve is by people telling the truth about cheating in our sport. To embrace the cheating or to turn a blind eye to cheating is again very WRONG !