Buzz Bissinger’s emotional support of Lance Armstrong on Twitter Friday served two functions. For starters, who knew Newsweek was still in business? More importantly, Buzz generated anticipation for today’s cover story (“I Still Believe In Lance Armstrong”), in which the Pulitzer winner insists the
Micheob pitchman face of Livestrong, “is one of the few heroes we have left in a country virtually bereft of them” (“if Armstrong used banned substances, he was leveling the playing field…he was still the one who overcame all odds”).
What point is being served here besides the USADA’s own desperation to prove to the public that it is cleaning up sports? It’s a slam job, and Armstrong is the victim of that slam. It has been that way for 13 years, an almost pathological desire by a select group of haters to bring him down—either out of jealousy or a determination to make a name for themselves. If he was the only one in cycling suspected of doping, then by all means tar and feather him. But he is not. Not even close. He is a target, the biggest target there is, the perfect symbol for the USADA to prove its existence.
“It’s a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes,” said Travis Tygart, chief executive of the USADA, “it’s yet another heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe, and honest competition.”
Save me the absurd self-righteousness.
Perhaps Travis Tygart, before trying to destroy Lance Armstrong for his own job security, should get his ass out of the chair in his office and try it himself.
That competitive cycling has been awash with PED use is hard to argue with, but when Bissinger declares, “so what?” if Armstrong was amongst the more prodigious users (and amongst the most skilled at covering it up), he implies it’s no big deal and the ends justify the means. Perhaps the latter would have a shred more credibility if he simply echoed Buzz’ sentiments. Something along the lines of, “I’m the cancer-survivor Superman. I’ve helped people. What the fuck have you done?”
Of course, that’s not what Armstrong has ever said. He’s never embraced Buzz’ level of cynicism (“professional cycling is a rotten sport like all professional sports are rotten (anybody who believes otherwise is a Pollyanna fool…it’s “not about the bike,” as the title of Armstrong’s bestselling biography states. It’s about winning by any means possible,”) because doing so would be professional, if not philanthropic suicide. It’s curious the way Armstrong’s shortcuts and dishonesty can be excused because of his survivor status and fundraising prowess. Had Barry Bonds overcome a terminal illness —- as opposed to say, simply being a jerk — would a respected national publication (or failing that, Newsweek) have commissioned a similar defense?