Lance Armstrong has achieved something unmatched in sporting history. And it’s not his now-tainted record of seven straight Tours de France.
A rare few other sportspersons have matched Armstrong’s dominance in a sport. Look no further than Australia’s Don Bradman and Walter Lindrum.
Bodyline was used to limit Bradman and cricket’s leg-before-wicket rule was changed. Billiards’ rules were changed to limit Lindrum.
They didn’t; Lindrum’s talent was so freakish, no opponent or rule change could stop him. Ditto for Bradman.
But Armstrong’s career is different. Rules weren’t changed to stop him. Instead, the opposite. What’s now clear is that Armstrong ran cycling — the sport existed for his benefit.
Cycling officialdom existed to be manipulated and paid for his benefit; the best medical and support team money could buy existed for his benefit; the other cyclists were manipulated, bullied and paid for his benefit.
This is an astonishing achievement. The TV series will be a cracker; it will play The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empireoff a break. Such an unmatched achievement requires a strength of will and narcissism beyond comprehension.
Such a will that Armstrong and his lawyers are dismissing the mountain of evidence. Just jealousy. Sound familiar?
Well, Armstrong is not keeping up with, he’s surpassed the Joneses. The irony remains that he may still well be the greatest cyclist of all time, artificial assistance or not. As a survivor, Armstrong has set his example for cancer sufferers.
That’s just as important as money, and should his foundation hit the dirt, there’ll be other fund-raisers. Will cycle change, however? Tour de France times are slower than in the time of Armstrong dominance, which would suggest less artificial assistance.
But the signs from Cycling officialdom are not reassuring. Shorter stages, a shorter race, a reduction from three weeks..that would seem an obvious way to go. Less incentive to seek artificial aids to achieve the superhuman endurance demanded.
Instead, they’ve gone the other way. Next year’s Tour de France will start from Corsica. Why not go all the way? A six-continent round-the-world tour?
Competitors would have to be pumped with every artificial aid known to man, they might be only good for one tour before the heart and every other organ packed up, but think of the money, think of the publicity, think of the excitement.
You know it make sense and more strength to their arms.
‘‘Aussie Jim’’, was Benji Marshall’s sarcastic reference to James Tamou after the Australia v New Zealand rugby league Test in Cairns. Tamou can now join the likes of Aussie Jelena Dokic and Aussie Tatiana Grigorieva as fair-dinkum deadset freaks and worldbeaters.
And the towering prop might achieve something lasting, beyond his increasingly impressive performances on the field. There are some who can’t accept an Aussie v Kiwi Test seriously when Tamou — so transparently a New Zealander — is wearing the green and gold.
They think it taints the game, and reflects badly on Tamou and those who enticed him to switch allegiances from the land of his birth. It was only last year that Tamou was chosen in New Zealand’s train-on squad.
Tamou would serve the game’s greater good far better by playing for his homeland, and little wonder that Kiwi captain Marshall feels sarcastic.
There are those who can’t accept an Origin match seriously with Tamou in the NSW team, either. Think it taints the game and reflects badly on Tamou and those who enticed him to wear the sky blue.
Fortunately, Queensland coach Mal Meninga’s tit-for-tat attempt to entice another transparent Kiwi, Sam Kasiano, into a maroon guernsey came to nothing. Tamou’s lasting example?
That the trumps ensure that such nonsense never degrades the game again.
George Bailey has been a Tasmanian stalwart in the Sheffield Shield and is now the Australia Twenty/20 cricket captain. Bailey’s has been an admirable career but he’s never been in serious danger of playing a Test for Australia and at 32, is unlikely to now.
The forever injury-prone Shane Watson has been an Australian Test stalwart. He will be playing Tests this summer if he doesn’t break down again.
The Australian high-performance unit want to put him in cotton wool and have brought him home from the Twenty/20 champions league in South Africa. Recently retired Test bowler Stuart Clark, who manages the Sydney Sixers, for whom Watson has been playing, has kicked up a stick.
Clark said it would have been all right had he been told 15 months ago, but not three days beforehand.
Who’s right? The minder or Clark? Both are. Solution? Don’t pick Test players in Twenty/20 teams.
There are plenty of slather-and-whack merchants about who can hit sixes for the non-cricket fan in a game that is likely to have the same transient popularity as yo yos, at least in Australia