What is zoom? Zoom is the picture you didn’t want. I wonder what it is Lance Armstrong wants as he zooms in and our eyes are momentarily locked. For a second. Two seconds. But his are friendly, even playful.
Once they could burn through you, could crush you, we all heard of stories, the intimidation, the built-up rage, anything that would set him off, then it was this guy, then it was that guy, all of which had one purpose only, to see through Europe, meaning the Old World, trying to measure it all out, knowing instinctively that there was a place for him, not as a member of a cycling society, but as its new leader, the owner.
Stay with this.
Because what Greg LeMond, with his rather goofy and happy-go-lucky approach, did before him as an American – as a foreigner in a traditional world – Lance Armstrong would, a decade later, ruthlessly cultivate and perfect to its very limit. But there was no way he would ever get away with it. It was always going to collapse for the American. Because he is an American.
“Today, I can’t do archery. I can’t do badminton. I can’t do table tennis. When all this shit went down, I got banned from every Olympic Sport. For life.”
“Who is respon..?”
“Travis Tygart. He is the man behind it. I suspect he had four main motivations. First: he is a megalomaniac and loves the spotlight. Second: he, and they, wanted to set a legal precedent going forward for any future cases. Third: there is a growing chorus of people who can legitimately argue that testing simply doesn’t work and yet they spend millions a year on it. Folks are beginning to ask if they are really effective. And fourth, and somewhat in line with what I just said, they are constantly in need of new and/or increased funding. This was the case that they could use to say, ‘hey, look how effective we are, and by the way, can you increase our funding?’ Tygart was out to make himself famous, if you ask me. And somehow he forced everyone to accept his findings. Of course, it’s clear it did nothing for the sport today.”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, the sport is so weak. Just fundamentally weak. From the unity standpoint. From a rider’s standpoint. The teams. They have no authority. No power. So when you have a shit show like we’ve seen with me, someone from the outside can just step in, go back 12 years in time, and royally screw a sport and a new generation that deserves none of this. Cycling and its hypocrisy is off the charts. You hungry?”
“Sure. Maybe some nuts or something. Keep talking.”
“Well, Ullrich took the blame for everything before me. And he vanished. Now he is on his way back. I see him re-emerging, so I’m the guy now. Here. Some nuts. But then you see all these photos of The Great Pantani. I don’t know, man. It just seems random, who is singled out as either good guys or bad guys. Before me, Bjarne, Ullrich and Marco won the Tour. After me it was Floyd, Alberto and Sastre. You see what I’m saying?”
“Last year at the Tour, ASO had rounded up some its champions and there they sat, on the back of a cabriolet: Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Greg Lemond and Miguel Indurain. Where were you?”
“Well, that shows it, doesn’t it? Is your problem doping or is it just one person? Phew. But all these things in cycling… The way some things didn’t happen, and we’ll erase seven years, and blah blah blah. It is so bad for the sport. First of all, if you take the title from a person, you have to give it to someone else. And if you don’t, then you didn’t do anything. Except making us all look like idiots. On Wikipedia, the [seven] years are just blank. You have a blank period during World War One. Then a blank period during World Word Two. And then one during World War Lance!”
Franz Ferdinand. Adolf Hitler. Lance Armstrong. Remember where you read it.
“We all did it. I mean, that’s out now, right? Jesus, I need a shower!”
“That’s an Andres Serrano in the hallway.”
“Oh. You know art? Yes. It’s not Piss Christ, but… Hey, take a look around. There is more stuff in the lower level.” He motions us to follow, then begins to climb the stairs, half-moaning.
“What? You are letting us loose?” I ask.
“Dude,” he shouts from somewhere up on the first floor. “I’ve lived with so much bullshit. You think I’m worried about you two fuckers?”
A door slams.
From Rouleur issue 51.