Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Who's Crying Now?

Me. That's who.
I'm still a child when it comes to sports.
Playoffs are like Christmas, and if I'm lucky, Christmas comes more than once a year. Sometimes in the form of the Olympics, sometimes disguised as the World Cup, but always, like clockwork, in the heat of the summer, I am showered in the gifts of the Annual Tour De France.
Today Santa Died.
I shrugged away Marco Pantani's failed drug test in 1999. I supported Lance's denials through every year that he won. I cried when Tyler Hamilton kissed the tag of his deceased dog, Tugboat, that he carried on his Olympic Gold Medal winning ride in 2004. I cried harder when he was sentenced to a two-year suspension from racing for doping in 2005. I believed that Ivan Basso was unfairly targeted when he was forced to withdraw one day before the start of the 2006 Tour. My heart broke for Floyd when he cracked on stage 16 and I wept with joy as I watched him ride away from the pack on stage 17. Ivan declared his innocence only to be replaced by Levi. Jan retired rather than face the press. Floyd went to court and his business manager went after Greg Lemond.
But none of these compares to how I feel today.
Alexandre Vinokourov's positive blood test and the subsequent withdrwal of the Astana team from this years Tour De France have landed a killing blow to my love of this sport. Barry Bonds can get as big as the Hulk and Michael Vick can go to hell for killing dogs and it changes nothing for me. I never believed there was any purity in the sports of baseball or football. Big money, big business, big egos and big disappointments are all I ever got from mainstream American sports anyway. But cycling...
I've only been watching cycling for 10 years. Many would argue that I've been watching for the 10 years most likely to make me a cynic, but as naive as it may sound, I really did believe that there must be a mistake, that there must be a flaw in the system, they couldn't ALL be cheating.
Today - I am the other guy in the poster. I've been dunked over, shot past and passed by. I am one of the nameless and faceless millions who have been screwed over by our love for sports.

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