Sports news this last few days has been awash with the story of how Lance Armstrong has been found guilty of doping, and stripped of his medals. While I take no stand on the case, and cannot reach a logical conclusion on my own with the facts Armstrong himself and the media are presenting, it makes me curious, and ask myself the fundamental question – ‘So, what is the truth ?’ The answer sadly might be, we’ll never know – or, there is his version of it, then the USADA version of it, and the actual truth. But, I don’t know if we can ever say for sure with confidence, unless he himself agrees that he doped. I suggest this reading here, that paints a picture that he for sure indulged in doping. Very convincingly written, but I didn’t really want to spend time researching the sources, and so forth. Simply because, even then, you will never know for sure 🙂
It’s become a constant thing with sports. When a Chinese female swimmer swam faster than Ryan Lochte in the last leg of some event at the Olympics just a few days back, aspersions were immediately cast. Fingers pointed, and that lead to more finger-pointing, saying – how do you know for sure Michael Phelps didn’t do it ? Really, how do you know who is clean and who isn’t ? Isn’t every person who breaks a world record a suspect for doping ?
I am just thinking out loud here, but how difficult is it to research performance enhancing drugs that cannot be caught by the standard drug tests ? How difficult was it to make a plane that couldn’t be detected by radar ? Where national pride is at stake, why would the Governments not spend humongous amounts of money into researching supplements that improved performance, and could not be detected ?
However, what is crucial in this case is that Lance Armstrong comes out with the truth. His admittance to drug abuse would once and for all close the case. His continued denial would mean, one will never know for sure.
Here’s something I remember from my childhood, which has left a very lasting and strong memory, so much so that I believe it was one of the defining moments in my life that has shaped the individual that I am. When I was a kid in my 3rd or 4th grade, my family had gone to this large get together – if I recall it correctly – a wedding. While at the wedding, another kid, roughly my same age, was playing with some money. I don’t remember the details exactly well, but a little while later, the kid’s mother came up to my parents, and announced that I had stolen money from her son. She then turned to him, and he went on to explain how I had taken the money from him, and then rushed out to buy ice cream or something. I was shell-shocked. Not that I was a particularly serene kid, but I knew that I had done nothing of that sort. I was even more shocked that he had a full-blown story that sounded so compellingly believable. I shall never know what his motive was or what he had done with the money he had. My grandmother pounced on me at once, threatening in constantly increasing degrees, asking me to own up to the truth. There was quite a bit of commotion. Then my dad entered the scene, and I was shit scared – see in those days, Indian kids were afraid of their parents. He then took some time to find out what was happening, and then pulled me aside, (a little roughly if I remember correctly), stared straight into me eyes , and asked in a level voice ‘Did you or did you not take the money from him ?’ Surprisingly, I was not scared now – maybe because in my mind I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong. I told him straight that I hadn’t the slightest clue about what this other kid was saying. My grandmother once again started going on about how I should be punished for lying so blatantly, and blah blah blah. My dad gestured for her to remain silent, which she did, and told the other lady in the same level voice ‘I believe my son, and I know that if he says he didn’t take it – he didn’t take it. Just tell me how much money it was and I’ll give it to you anyway.’ I was overjoyed! I would not get accused for something I didn’t do. I will not forget the look on the lady’s face, before she turned and left abruptly, and how my grandmother stopped with the accusing herself. In that one moment, there is one important lesson I learnt in life – never lie. Even if you do something wrong, don’t lie. Own up to the things you do. But at the same time, just because someone raises a finger at you – don’t succumb.
I only wish Lance Armstrong would similarly, just tell the truth. I know it’s not the same – it’s not the loose chance and it’s not relatives at a gathering witnessing it. There is a lot at stake, and the whole world is watching – but if he did cheat, he should accept it. It will not change the person he really is – just what others think of him.