Armstrong and Clemens are alike in one way. They both continue to deny cheating for public consumption despite evidence and testimony that has the court of public opinion finding both of them guilty. For admirers of both athletes, this incessant, relentless lying is perhaps the hardest part to accept. The cheating itself is often rationalized by fans as the natural result of their competitive drive combined with sports organizations that were late to enforce (or, in baseball’s case, even impose) their rules. Indeed, there is a libertarian strain of thought that says what they do to their own bodies is their business.
But the ongoing lies are a constant reminder that these are not, ultimately, men of honor, men worthy of admiration, even if some of their acts are.
The difference is Armstrong will now suffer his long-delayed punishment. He has given up the fight against USADA’s case, knowing he could not beat it. He will ultimately be stripped of his Tour titles, his name expunged from cycling’s record books.
Clemens will suffer no such punishment from his sport. In fact, he will be celebrated Saturday night as he begins his comeback bid at age 50 in Sugar Land, just outside his hometown of Houston. Sometime soon, it is very likely he will take the mound for the woebegone Astros, who could use the attendance bump, thereby delaying for five years the only sanction he might face—not from his sport, but from the writers who cover it.
...So this weekend Armstrong will absorb his public disgrace in Austin and Clemens will take the mound to cheers and acclaim 150 miles away. After all these years, cycling can say it finally set things right. Baseball never will.
The moral to our modern fable? If you’re going to cheat in athletics, pick a sport with spineless leadership.
Posted: August 24, 2012 at 03:38 PM | 48 comment(s)
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