Not taking down my Armstrong poster

I read on Facebook that because of the ongoing doping allegations regarding Armstrong, a friend of a friend’s 13-year-old son took down the Tour de France winner’s posters in disgust. For a 13-year-old that took a lot of maturity, but at the same time I have to feel sorry for him because he just learned a valuable life lesson about heroes – they are just human.

Hanging on my office wall is a Lance Armstrong poster with the now ironic statement, “This is my body. And I can do whatever I want to it. I can push it. Study it. Tweak it. Listen to it. Everybody wants to know what I’m on. What am I on? I’m on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?”

Like the 13 year old, I believe that Armstrong took an alphabet soup of PEDs during his professional cycling career. However I’m not taking down his poster.

As you can see inside the picture frame I’ve slipped various mementos: a rider’s number from Paris-Roubaix, my certificate of completion from the 2008 L’ Etape du Tour, media stickers and an “in honor of” for my dad from the 24 Hours of Booty that some dear friends rode with. But Armstrong’s message can still be clearly seen.

The Armstrong story is a well crafted narrative. Born to a single mom and rising above adversity to become an elite athlete. But as I look at the poster and see a sprinting Armstrong, it’s no longer the man who I see but the message.

As I sat down to write this, I needed some perspective on my thoughts. My philosophical education consists of four years of Catholic high school and mandatory 101 courses in university. I reached out to my buddy, Biola Assistant University professor of biblical and theological studies Jeff Volkmer.

“Have you heard of ‘The Treachery of Images and the painting, This is not a pipe?” Admittedly I wasn’t probably 100% awake during all my philosophy classes but it did ring a bell.

Basically the painting is of a pipe, but the point of the message beneath the pipe is that it is an image of a pipe, not an actual pipe. And that’s what the Armstrong poster is to me – “This is not an Armstrong.”

So I’m not taking down the poster. I’m looking beyond the photograph of a man riding his bike but focusing on the message and what it means to me. What is an Armstrong? That’s for you to decide.


  1. Nick says:

    Take away the drugs from everyone, and Lance would’ve still won. The poster is super-ironic (what am I on? uh…drugs.) But he was actually still busting ass on his bike every day.

  2. Erik Lewis says:

    If you did take down your picture of Lance down, then would you have to take down pictures of Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Fausto Coppi, Jan Ullrich, Bjarne Riis? LEAVE BRITTANY ALONE!(I mean Lance). We embrace the medical community when they cure a disease, why not embrace PED’s as medical research, I am just saying.

  3. XCskater says:

    Lance didn’t win in a level playing field, he took doping to the next level. He was good at this more than at riding a bike.
    Google for: HemAssist Armstrong.

    Lance also took the lying about his performances to the next level. He based a religion and brand on it. People devoted their lives and money to this lie. It bought him book and commercial deals, which without the explicit and overdone lies not have been available to him. He lied to get richer. He should have learned from Indurain. He just kept quiet about how he won 5 Tours.

    And you’re wrong about Lance’s doping. It wasn’t all of his cycling career. It started before that. It’s THAT much of a hype with this guy, that even when people acknowledge any of his flaws, they are immediately understated. Stand back, and observe the true legacy he left, and step back some more to see the lie you’ve unknowingly partly lived in. It was your dream, but his lies.

    Anyone who wants to be part of the statistic that makes up Armstrong’s current fanbase’s average IQ? This has dropped considerably over the past 12 years. Peope who can think for themselves, have stepped out years ago. Myself about 2 years ago, for which I am very deeply ashamed. I thought better of myself, but am just that gullible, appararently.

    If you have some special feelings left for the greatest fraud to have ever impacted the sports scene, that is your choice, and as such very telling of your intellect or character. Make your pick which the two. If you can’t, it’s both. Don’t pick your next hero without adult supervision. The guy is collecting crimes he could be jailed for (or sins he will go to hell for, whichever authority you prefer) like Jay Leno collects automobiles.

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