I have taken my time to formulate an opinion about Mr.Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace. Tumbling from the pinnacle of the sports world to the lowest place one can imagine, has to be a disorienting experience for he and for his family. What a fall! So far. So fast. I hear him owning up to his errors after so many years of accusations but I don’t actually hear him saying “I am sorry.” Sure he confessed to Oprah but she was pretty soft on him. It’s not like she asked the Barbara Walters zingers. When Ms. Walters had someone in her crosshairs she never gave them a chance to back down, she went right for her target and was known to break down more than a few tough guys this way. Oprah on the other hand gave Lance plenty of room to wiggle and wiggle he did.
This is all interesting fodder for the tabloids, but I have a different viewpoint. In the end I don’t care that much about what Lance did or didn’t do, the truth will always out, as they say, bubbling to the fore with its’ own force. For me what matters most is not the facts so much as the attitude. Lance is not exactly repentant. I believe the other shoe has yet to drop. I sense he has not fully off-loaded his darkest truths. More to come on that note – mark my words. Perhaps the greatest gift to be gained from this fall from yellow grace is that we can now openly address a problem that for so long has been whispered about but not placed in an open forum where it can be named, perhaps even dissected for its ugly truth. The taking of performance enhancing drugs is not limited to the rarified world of cycling. It is a ubiquitous problem.
This is where Lance and the world of competitive fitness and bodybuilding have much in common, and therefore I hesitate to affix blame or point fingers, is in the very dark arena of drug taking. Even as a publisher of magazines that celebrate the most muscular bodies, I know very well drugs are at play in my world too. Do not read that sentence and assume I have taken performance-enhancing drugs – I have not – but I do know far too many people who have. Yes, I admit this is part of what you see in most muscle building magazines. Oxygen chooses to celebrate a less “ripped to ribbons” version of the female physique but I, as a publisher, would be laughed out of my office chair if I did not put a few drug taking photos in MuscleMag. Men have come to expect and even appreciate the bigger is better muscular beast. I don’t condone it but I know it happens. You don’t even have to look very far outside of the muscle building world to find a young teenaged football player who has taken steroids in order to make the team and perform better on the field. Performance-enhancing drugs are ubiquitous in many walks of life. It shouldn’t be this way but it is. Everyone is looking for, using and relying on the quick fix as they seek physique and performance perfection. I can’t point fingers at anyone. How can Oprah do it? To what lengths has she gone to shed extra pounds? I doubt we will ever know that answer.
I hate that Lance took us all to the highest heights of athletic achievement and then plummeted us into the darkest depths of human behaviour. I wanted to believe he was capable of being a superhuman. We all want that. I want him to tell us he is sorry and that he will make it right, a most arduous task. But what I want more is for you and I to celebrate the human physique and what it is capable of without beating it up, drugging it, cheating, driving needles into it and making it a dirty business. The human physique coupled with the human mind is capable of so very much. When you hear Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, you know what I mean. When you see the great pyramids at Giza you get it too. Michelangelo’s beautiful David is divine human perfection. Why not work to your best potential, as it used to be, without the sordid collection of add-ons we have come to expect from our very best. I would much rather see you looking and feeling your best without compromising yourself, your health or your principles.