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Rethinking Lance Armstrong

Let me start by saying two things: 1) Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose belong in the Hall of Fame. 2) Cheating doesn't matter.

Which doesn't mean cheating is right. It isn't. It's wrong. But so is complaining about it. I think that's where Republicans and Democrats differ. Republicans see the world how they want it to be. Democrats try to adjust expectations to how the world really is.

I'm tired of hearing about Lance Armstrong. One of the more prominent triathlon message boards has even taken to making Lance a forbidden topic.

Because here's the thing...I still love Lance. Doping or not. He still kicked your ass in the Tour de France. He still raised attention and money for cancer. Heck, he had cancer. He could kick my well-trained, non-doping butt in a triathlon. In a marathon. I still love Lance.

I do not, however, like Barry Bonds. Somehow, I've been holding these two up to different criteria and you heard me say it here once and for all. Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame. There, I said it.

Because if Lance didn't cheat, then this whole thing is a huge witch hunt. You should have worked harder to beat him.

What if he did dope though? That's where this whole thing falls apart. The accusers, I mean. You're opposed to human nature? You're opposed to it ruining the purity of your sport? You can't let cheaters win and get away with it? Why?

Here's the cold truth of life. You should have worked harder. Either way. Somewhere, someone should have worked harder to beat Lance. So what if Lance needed performance enhancers? What do you think Gatorade is? Not the same thing?

At some point in sports, I've stopped placing a value on outcome and started valuing the work that gets us there. And Lance still did the work. Maybe that's where I have hard feelings against Barry Bonds...it feels like maybe he didn't do the hard work. Or maybe he did. That's why I'm taking him back as a sports fan.

I'm working my butt off trying to get my average cycle speed up closer to 20 mph so I can ride 112 miles in a not-just-trying-to-make-the-cutoff time in an Ironman. Lance won the Tour de France how many times? After cancer. Respect that.

Don't get me wrong, I earned my 4:57:41 marathon time on Sunday. I'm proud of that outcome. But mostly because of the hard work that got me there. It was just proof of everything that went in...the sacrifice, the long runs, the sweat, the pain.

It's not whether you win or lose OR how you play the game...it's about the courage to step up to the line, the plate, onto the field, climb on the bike, get in the water.

And whether Lance Armstrong doped has nothing to do with that. If you wanted to beat Lance Armstrong then you should have. None of this would even be up for debate. We'd be talking about the guy who worked his ass off to beat Lance Armstrong. But we're not. We're talking about the guy nobody could beat.

Victory isn't the only thing or everything. It's just a symbol of the performance along the way. In order to run my 4:57 I had to wake up early on a lot of Sundays. And I had to run 26.2 miles with blisters and sore legs and got up in the cold and had the sun in my eyes and....

I'm tired of hearing about Lance. So why write about him? Because if the doping is all you see, you're missing the point. He was out there climbing hills while you were asleep in your warm bed.

Maybe I'm starting to sound old. But if you want something go get it and quit complaining about the unfairness of the people abusing the system. You can sit home and eat chips on your couch, too. You could dope, too.

Oh, you're not going to? Your choice.

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