Monday, February 11, 2013

Tour de Dope

Sport has always been, and will always be a hugely emotional experience, for all those involved with it, whether playing or following it.
While all sport churns out champions, it also creates role models, people who determine how the general public perceives the sport, responds to it, and makes it a part of their daily lives.
These people, these champions, they are the people who carry on their shoulders the responsibility of marketing their sport, carrying it forward, and also protecting the sport.
The first time I heard about Lance Armstrong, he had already won the coveted title of the Tour de France a couple of times.
I happened to be in a store with a friend of mine, looking at a yellow-colored wristband that had the title 'LIVESTRONG' written on it. As I picked up the band to look at it up close, my friend told me the story of how this guy who was a professional cyclist, had battled cancer, months of
extensive chemotherapy, to come back stronger and even more determined than ever before, to win back to back titles at the Tour de France, which he ensured me was the Holy Grail of the Cycling world.
Every year after that I used to tune into the Tour de France, just to pledge my support to this God-like figure, who had fought Death face to face, and yet lived, to fight it out another day.
If this was the case of a person who hardly knew at that time what Professional Cycling was all about, it really was not surprising how he had become the beacon of hope in an otherwise hopeless world, the epitome of strength and courage, the toast of the cycling world, the champion of life, the one person the world would look upto when it needed heart.
Lance Armstrong, the name, the brand, the legend, kept on growing year after year, adding titles, breeding new fans and followers, making believers out of people who thought hope was a lost cause in their lives.
Such was the legend, the fan-following, the belief, that when the first time a speculation of him using performance-enhancing drugs was made, it was almost dismissed collectively by the whole world.
Sadly though, it was this world that was to be let down when 6 years after that first allegation, he admitted to the usage of the drugs during his reign as champion.
I have been a huge fan of Lance Armstrong for the most part of my life, and though he still remains an inspiration for fighting it out with death, yet he does not remain the role model I once considered him to be.
Had he admitted to doping in the first place, maybe he would have been forgiven, and remained a hero, although a little marred, yet still a hero, who fought his way back into life, and maybe in his will to fight back, had gone a little overboard, but, no he did not.
The world stood by him, and then as details of the scandal came out slowly, the world shattered all around him, the beacon of hope was suddenly a bundle of lies, who had fought death no doubt, but in order to become great, had cheated on his world, his profession, his people, just like he had cheated on death.
It turned out to be a scripted movie that had been running and re-running year after year to entice the world into a notion of hope, into the creation of a legend that would become greater than the life it lead.
The sad part is that it is the sport that is suffering the most as an aftermath. The people lost an inspiration, but the sport lost a legend, and along with that, its credibility.
The person who had breathed life into the sport was sadly the one who puffed the life out of it too.
The coveted title of Tour de France has lost its sheen, and cyclists the world over are now being looked at with suspicion. What wrong did they do?
The Tour de France probably made Lance Armstrong the brand it became, that was its only mistake.
It made a legend, but got a career full of lies and deceit in return.
Lance Armstrong was the one involved in doping, yet it is Professional Cycling that has taken the hit and would be now paying for the damage done.



Seththewhizkid said...

I agree with you mate.. cycling has suffered & all former champions as well.. The guy who gave hope to billions is now a symbol of lie.. But what can I say.. Its hard to digest all of this at once.. And even today he remains an idol to all the cancer patients.. I wish all of this was not true.. :(
Never lose hope & Never take dope..

Arpit Rastogi said...

I got to know Lance Armstrong through Kittu only.. So i was not that disappointed!

Just as kitty said - Never Lose Hope But Try Dope Sometimes! Its good. :P