Nike announced today that they cancelled their endorsement contract with Lance Armstrong. Registration for this weekend's Livestrong ride in Austin is rumored to be down significantly from years past. Armstrong has stepped down as chairman of the Livestrong board. The house is burning, and Lance, trapped by his steadfast refusal to acknowledge the truth, is sitting inside while it all falls down.
Grizzly Adam used superlative terms to describe the scope and scale of doping in cycling. I commented that he's missing an important qualifier: cycling is just the largest conspiracy that we know about. But to think that larger, wealthier sports--where the competition to land a spot on a team is higher and the upside of doing so is much greater--do not have doping conspiracies at least as large that simply have not been exposed is naive.
In the early 2000's, I cheered as much as anyone for Lance as he was sweeping across France seven years in a row. I didn't think he was doping because I didn't want to think about it. I was enjoying the show too much. At some point, it just smelled fishy, too good to be true. Ulrich and Basso were doping, but Armstrong still won? Hmm.
Similarly, when I watch the NFL or Premier League or MLB, I enjoy the show. But like Lance, the show is too good to be true. Whether the shoe ever drops and a conspiracy larger, richer, and more sophisticated than cycling's is exposed is simply a matter or whether the business owners getting rich from sport ever decide that cleaning up the sport is good for their bottom line. Athletes have already shown that the incentives are just too great to ever police themselves. To think otherwise is to be willfully ignorant.