While I have some reservations about extending the "where's Lance?" discussion, I've decided to anyway, and not just because the first post is hitting the comment tipping point. It's because of this:
Most of the guys who raced at the top level of cycling in the late 1990s and early new millenium are both victims and perpetrators in the hijacking-by-EPO of our beautiful sport. The perpetrators part is easy to grasp, report on, sensationalize, etc. What's often forgotten is the victim angle. If you think a single person deliberately took up cycling on the hopes of cheating their way to glory, you're on the wrong website. Cycling is about suffering, first and foremost, and everyone who gets to the top level of the sport does so by developing a passion for the suffering and for the sensation of riding a bike really fast. To develop this passion, to climb up the ladder and reach the top rung of the sport, and then find out that if you don't start cheating, your career is basically over... I mean, how would you feel?
From everything I've read, the last major EPO generation responded to that reality with varying degrees of acceptance: a few holdouts, presumably others who had little to no qualms about turning their blood into a toxic soup, and the majority deciding to go along, rather than canceling their dreams and looking for another line of work. I don't know -- how would I? -- but suspect that something close to 100% of them would trade their careers for the same shot, ten years later... as in now, when the sport is at least tinkering with clean racing.
ESPN's Bonnie Ford is all over the story, not surprisingly. So when Ford surmises that the main motivation for Lance Armstrong's purported comeback is a chance to show the world that he can race clean, well, it all makes perfect sense. Unlike the comebacks of other champions (Jordan, Farvrvre, every boxer ever), Armstrong would have much more than redundant glory to tempt him back. He could be after redemption, or if he's too defiant for that, then perhaps a craving to ride in a clean peloton and see, for the first time in his professional life, what the sport is really like. It's too bad that he'll be chasing these sensations at age 38 and not 28. For us fans, particularly in the States, the chance to see how great a cyclist Lance Armstrong could really be has passed.