Of Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins’ comments concerning disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong long after the pairs co-authored ‘Every Second Counts’ and ‘Not About The Bike’, The Seattle Weekly’s Mike Seely writes, “she could have limited herself to commenting on the man to whom she was exposed, even mentioned his maintained innocence and her lack of knowledge about its veracity. Instead, she attacked the USADA and the system, providing a quasi-defense of her co-author. That column breached an ethical demarcation.” Jenkins (above), for her part, took to the pages of the WaPo on Saturday to insist she bears no animus towards her notorious subject.
Maybe I’m not angry at Lance because, after reading the rider affidavits, I think it’s apparent that all of the people associated with him are responsible for themselves and their choices, just as I was. If Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Christian VandeVelde and Dave Zabriskie took EPO during the Tour de France, it wasn’t because Lance Armstrong shot them in their butts with it. I enjoyed and profited from my association with Lance when he was on top, and so did his fellow riders. Lance never made me write a single paragraph in “It’s Not About the Bike” or the sequel “Every Second Counts,” and the vast majority of them, I stand by as honest. Such as this one: “Cycling is so hard, the suffering is so intense, that it’s absolutely cleansing.”
Maybe I’m not angry at him because after reading the USADA report and the affidavits of the riders who spoke with USADA, I have some common-sense questions that preclude anger. Such as: Shouldn’t an organization with the initials U.S. in front of it have to follow due process? And: According to the affidavits, the U.S. Postal Team had a highly organized “doping” system in place long before Lance became a member of it, so why is he the target of this report? Or: The affidavits taken by USADA make it clear that while Lance refused to use HGH, Floyd Landis introduced it to younger riders, so why is the federal government considering giving Landis whistle-blower protection?
Maybe I’m not angry at Lance because I don’t understand those people who are bitterly angry to discover that he is not Santa Claus, while ignoring the very real and useful presents he delivered. Not toys, not hagiography, but the simple yet critical lesson that a third medical opinion can save your life.