And, Armstrong Sics the Pit Bulls: yes, having sworn any further investigations into his alleged career-long systemic doping would be met with a shrug, a smirk, and wholly bored silence, Lance Armstrong has apparently changed his mind: not only has he changed his snarling mantra from a carefully-worded "I never tested positive" to a definitive "I never doped", but he's gonna find the "anonymous" !@#$er former teammates who ratted on him and make sure they, like Tyler Hamilton, never take a whiz in peace in a public men's room again. Dang, just when I thought we were done hearing from him about this !@#$! Anyway, the debate over whether USADA oughta go after him rages on, with former rivals like Simeoni and Andreu raising their heads blearily from their current gigs scrubbing floors to express surprise, the usual Lance-lovin' zombies leaping to his all-caps defense on every website, and his despised haters--you know, those bitter talentless loser miscreants who prefer clean cycling--conceding that while even they're sick of this stupid crap and would enjoy watching an actual race for once, openness and catharsis can only be good for the sport, its undoped practitioners, its fans, and its aspiring greats-of-tomorrow. Me--I'd rather the lid be blown off the whole dirty scene no matter who's done it and how disappointed we'd be to hear their names, on one condition--that everyone stop acting like it wholesale stopped in 2008, acknowledge that some stunning percentage of greedy cheatbags are still gonna try it and in fact are trying it right this very minute, and quit pretending that just admiring a few sunny squads and holding 'em up as moral examples justifies stickin' our heads back in the sands like we do after every Festina/Op Puerto/CERA variant/egregiously reckless Riccardo Ricco' fades under our excitement over the newest grand tour rock star. Can we all agree to at least try that?
So the question is, after Travis Tygart is done dodging rotten vegetables, what happens to Lance and his record-breaking seven maillots jaune? Let's face it, why bother with a formal stripping of titles--who the hell we gonna give 'em to, Ullrich? (Of course, if we want to give, say, his 2002 edition to Joseba Beloki, I'll concede the perfect wisdom of that point.) I'd say about all we can do this late in the game with one guy personally is to put a big fat asterisk next to all his victories in the history books, affirm unapologetically that being a genuinely inspirational and life-changing spokesperson on a crucial cause doesn't entitle anybody to claim overall sainthood for something else entirely, and, if he *does* go after guys who have been nothing but loyal and subservient to him for darn near a decade if they had the gall to finally draw a line at lying under oath, make sure they're treated fairly (if not incongruously lauded, either) for coming forward. Why the hell else would anybody bother in the future? On the broader front, the only solution I can see is holding the teams and their management responsible--because besides saying no to an icon and power-broker like Lance or even any rider bigwig, it's gotta be damn intimidating for some jailbait neo-pro Tour de France dreamer to even think of objecting to systemic dope-dealing by the DS who just gave them a job and can easily tank their incipient career. You hear that, Johan--one strike, and you're out for life! So good luck now and in the future, USADA--you know how history has treated the messengers!
House of Pain: speaking of Bruyneel, who absolutely proclaims his complete purity, the all-star 70s disaster movie that is Team RadioSkank continues to steamroll onwards, with current team sponsors and their Schleck-lovin' boss already throwing Johan under the bus, the normally-quiet man-o'-experience (and as Ullrich's ex-right-hand-man, he sure is experienced) Andreas Kloden breaking his self-imposed silence to opine that teams who don't all actively hate each other tend to perform at a wee bit higher level, and Chris Horner, of all people, aggressively waiving the flag for Lance's total innocence and smacking back at Klodi for unprofessionalism for, y'know, stating the truth. Jeez, even *I* don't know whether to buy another box of popcorn or look away in horror at this point!
Uh, I'm Riding! Over Here! On My Bike! You've Heard of These Things, Like In a Race?: finally, as the Tour de France shapes up and the Olympic rosters are announced, I gotta say, Taylor Phinney is a fantastic young rider, will undoubtedly figure prominently in the history books, and has surely earned all the accolades he gets--but just as I was gonna go on a rant how Dave Zabriskie's getting completely screwed being denied the single time trial slot, comes USA Cycling's press release that Dave, along with Hincapie, Leipheimer, and Vande Velde, all former teammates of guess-who--asked to be left out of the Olympic team. Holy !@#$, Dave--I know you're riding the Tour and will be justifiably knocked out and all--but really, is that assclown Armstrong worth *this*? You *blow*, Lance--just *look* at all the havoc you've wreaked with your selfishness!