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The Mob Mentality

I apologize in advance for the speculative nature of my commentary, but I can no longer deal with Landis' admission solely on the surface. I've read the commentary, both here and on the rest of the interwebs, and I feel a part of this whole circus is being overlooked; the Lance Effect on cycling.

Lance Armstrong is a polarizing figure, his feat of winning seven straight Tours was enough to make him a sporting superstar, even in America, where the populous couldn't care less about the sport of cycling, but, it was his comeback story which made him an icon, a hero to millions. Along with his story has come the ability to beat his enemies both on and off the road. Every person, organization, or team that has stepped up to criticize him has been defeated and publicly discredited/tarnished. From Simeoni to Andreu, and the French in general (labs, media, etc) no one has ever substaniated claims against Lance Armstrong, leaving his image (at least to the American masses) inpenetrable and untarnished.

So this is why when Landis stepped up to admit to performance enhancing drug use, while claiming the guilt of Armstrong and co., that the media laughed at Landis; they listened but stood by Lance unwaveringly. His motives and credibility have been questioned ,and rightfully so, he hasn't had a great track record of sticking to his story or telling the truth. But, Landis' story adds up to a growing track record of doubt against Lances' performances, especialy now that we can see he was winning Tours by mutiple minutes against known dopers, and makes points that are entirely logical, plausible, and not nearly over the top enough to be pushed aside as merely a fantastical story. This is why it upsets me so to see people in the media, some with little to no idea of the past and the plausibility of some of these claims, to automatically write them off as the work of a crazy man. There has to be more to this than just what it is, and its obvious to me and probably most of you what that is; the Lance Effect.

By The Lance Effect, I mean to say the importance from a media/business standpoint, to perpetrate the myth of the superhuman Lance Armstrong. Lance was too good to beat, dopers lost tens of minutes to him riding clean, and his inpenetrability sold cycling. It attracted sponsors, it created a fan base for cycling which was much smaller than before his time, and it created a story for the ages, one that could be made into a brand. And while I know Lance's brand has been so good for American cycling, and cancer awareness, it is more than likely a lie. I refuse to believe that in a culture of doping, against highly doped individuals, and surrounded by cyclists on his own team that have since tested positive, that Lance could do all he did without ANY help. But, so many people, both within the peloton, in management and cycling organizations, and in the media are so commited to this idea. And so the mob mentality has come up to block all criticism from their cultural figurehead, Lance.

The mob (by which i mean the collective cycling or non-cycling individuals that have something to gain from the Lance Effect) have stepped up the reinforcement of his innocence beyond any shadow of a doubt. People have so much to gain by Lance staying a hero, but is it worth the lie. For the money, and the sake of the future of a cycling prescence in the U.S., I suppose it may be, but i am inclined to believe there is life for American Cycling without the Lance myth. I believe for the sake of the future, the discretions of the past must be accepted, Lance being really the largest holdout to the trend. As far as im concerned, he won his titles because he beat an even crowd, they were all doped. Its not to say it was right, and its not to say he's absolutely guilty (I think probably though), but the past was the past, and it still haunts the present, which i like to believe is an era of transparency, where the winners are either clean, or are being caught in the act and punished.

Lance is being sheltered from criticism by a community that is so afraid of the reprucussions of losing his image, but its at the cost of some forward progress. I hope cycling, and especially the American media, can come to grips with life after the myth of Lance, because there is so much more to this amazing sport than his image. I dont know if Landis is telling the truth, but I can not dismiss his claims as easy as some, and I can not stand the defense of Lance, because its far too image based, and doesn't even try to touch upon reality. the mob mentality has taken over, once again to make sure lance is a saint and a hero, but its not necessary. The truth has to be worth more than the image of Lance, people need to stop denying this is possible, and people need to step up for the sake of the future of the sport, and speak to this issue with what they know. Its time for the mob to step down, and its time for Lance to face the music, whatever that may be.


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