In my life, I have been forced to do many things that I didn’t want to do. That included work, lowering my morals and even sex. I mention this because in a world like the one we live in now (or perhaps the one you live in now), we are told that we have to perform against a super standard. We are given a slew of ideals that we should aspire to.
I don’t know you but your actions leave a lot to be desired. I know I’m not the first one to say it and I know that the blatant glare of public scrutiny is at the highest it has ever been.
That’s not why I’m writing.
I’m writing because I want to understand. Because I don’t understand how a man who has been hit as low as you can be hit with something as heinous as cancer, can come back with a new lease on life and take an attitude that, in the public eye, looked cocky and arrogant. Did you feel that if you could train hard enough and blood dope, you would feel that you won against that malaise? Did you feel that somehow, the public would forgive you for what you have done for what you had to endure? Did you decide that you would do whatever it took with the second chance at life that you had, to win the Tour de France, regardless of the consequences because you thought that you may just die tomorrow so why not?
When I read the report that came out, I imagined a frat boy who was in control of the biggest party in town.
I’ve done a lot in my life and I know that I have no right to appoint myself judge and jury. So I’ll just say this: I wish I had been someone important to you, someone you would have listened to. If I had been, I would have told you that you can draw strength from your weaknesses. I would have told you that you do have a choice to do what’s right, and not what’s popular. I would have let you know that there is no shame in failing because recognizing your weakness makes you a stronger man, a man of measure, a man who people can respect.
A man who I would respect.
I would have held you in my arms, given you a kiss on the forehead and then told your ass to get on the bike and train and work your butt off because that is how you obtain things worth fighting for in life. I would have hidden the cortisone, thrown out the testosterone-olive oil mix and not have let you drawn your blood to put in the fridge for later use. And then, maybe then, you would have understood that you are not defined by your illness nor by the perceived perception of wearing the yellow jersey (and all that it entails), just like I was not defined by the actions of a crap boss or an ill-chosen boyfriend.
There are rough seas ahead, Mr. Armstrong. And the worst part of it is that your children and your loved ones will be the first ones on the prow to be battered by the crashing waves. Your actions have put them there and I hope that they will be as weather-ready as you are because, mark my words, there will be moments when you will not be there to protect them and perhaps then you will wonder if it was really worth it.
May you learn something from this and if nothing else, may the sport of cycling become a cleaner one because of you.
I have spoken.
Fumi, The Glamorous Triathlete