The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Death of a Superhero

It seems odd to attack and destroy a national hero, but, then, this is part of American culture, or any culture, when the wrong people are in charge. Naturally, I’m talking about Lance Armstrong—perhaps the greatest cyclist who ever lived—and the USADA—an agency of the U.S. government, unassociated with cycling or Olympic sports—who will almost certainly manage what a grand jury or international cycling itself could not achieve, namely, ban Lance for life and strip him of his Tour de France titles. The question, of course, is why. Why spend the time and money? The answer lies, in part, on the war on drugs and its importance in American culture and, also, I suspect, on Lance’s obdurate personality. But, when you think about it, how could he have achieved his seven Tour de France victories without being a hard man? How could he have won without using every means at his disposal? Why would anyone be naive enough to imagine otherwise?

One can only assume that when a grand jury failed to indict Armstrong, all of its evidence was turned over to the USADA. This was done in extremis. The USADA is not a legal forum, but an agency of the U.S. government whose decisions are made by a panel of experts. There is no due process, no ability to present a case or question witnesses, no legal recourse after the decision is made. Essentially, the USADA can and will do anything it pleases. Lance’s only option is to challenge the panel’s legal standing to make a judgment in this matter. Sadly, it is highly unlikely that he will succeed.

How quintessentially American this is. When we discover our superhero is flawed and human, we relish seeing him flayed, bowed, and bleeding, so we can pretend we are patricians sitting in judgment on a wounded gladiator in the Colosseum. The thing I love about Lance is that he will never give us this pleasure.