Bonds, Armstrong and double standards
Insert Barry Bonds’ name in Lance Armstrong’s place in this latest round of allegations, and we would consider it further evidence telling us what we already believe — the guy is obviously guilty.
Think about that.
Bonds, Armstrong. Armstrong, Bonds. Let’s face it. Same story. Same guy.
What?! But one is an American hero! And the other is a sleazeball, a cartoon of a villain, a pro-wrestling heel!
Uh … sure. Whatever. But close your eyes when told the particulars of their stories, and see if you can tell me which is which. Redact the names from their case files, read them aloud, and see if you can tell them apart.
All of the same allegations and accusations. All the same not-quite-evidence-but-this-really-doesn’t-look-good stuff. Never quite a smoking gun as much as a dark cloud that keeps coming back, a gathering storm. Nothing ever proven, officially, by legal standards. But, come on, we’re not stupid here.
And yet one is obviously guilty, and the other is the golden boy. Uh huh. Why is that, exactly?
Bonds, Armstrong. Armstrong, Bonds. And before you lose your mind over that comparison, remember Bonds has never been proven guilty of anything, either. Keep in mind Bonds maintains his innocence, too. Keep in mind he says it’s all a witch hunt.
Except that you just know he did it, don’t you? You just know Bonds is a bad guy. Look at all those allegations. Look at all those connected dots. He had to have done it. Of course he did it. What are we, stupid, here?
Well, for Armstrong, we are. Or, we want to be. We want to believe in Lance. (See, I even called him “Lance,” even though his last name — Armstrong — is already as heroic-sounding as it gets. That’s how first-name basis we are with this guy.) We want to ignore this, we want to be blind. But let’s face it. He may as well tell us he thought it was flaxseed oil at this point.
Hey, if you give Armstrong every benefit of every doubt, in the face of all this, you might as well give it to Barry, too. Hold them to the same standard. When it comes to doping allegations, they have the same resume.
But Lance never failed a drug test! (At least not officially, when it was double- and triple-checked!)
Hey, Bonds has tested positive for amphetamines, that’s all.
These accusations are lies! Lance has lots of enemies!
Enemies? Bonds sneers at your enemies. (Bonds sneers at Nixon’s enemies.)
It’s true, Bonds has been indicted for perjury. Why? Under oath, he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, when all these other guys said that he had. So, one up on him.
Except, here comes a federal grand jury inquiry for Armstrong, too. So he’ll get his chance next.
They’re living parallel lives, at this point.
But we see their two eerily similar cases in extremely different lights because Armstrong a.) is the guy behind the yellow LIVESTRONG bracelets, and your auntie (and mine) is a cancer survivor; and b.) is being accused by "The French."
These are convincing arguments. Also, c.) Bonds is apparently a Grade A jerk.
It is inarguable that Armstrong has done an indescribable amount of good as an inspirational figure in the fight against cancer. Because of this, many of us not only want to believe in him — we have to believe in him.
And, no matter how he got his platform, the fact that he used it to fight cancer (and date Sheryl Crow), well, you can’t argue with that.
But, really, is his story any more believable than Barry’s?
The Tour de France is so rife with doping, we might not bat an eye if a rider had a syringe sticking out of him in the middle of the race. It’s so compromised we assume everyone involved is on drugs, up to and including the goats on the side of the road.
(And yes, you may use that for the name of your next fantasy team. “The Doping Goats.”)
So, assume the entire field is doping until otherwise proven innocent – EXCEPT for the guy who dominated like no other in the history of the event? So we are to believe the only guy in the Tour de France NOT on performance enhancers is the one who won it seven years in a row?
(And now I will employ the kind of harsh interrogation technique that broke Troy Polamalu in that shampoo commercial.)
Well, OK, then. I do admire that kind of dedication and belief. But if so, you’d have to admit there’s also a chance Barry Bonds was clean, too, then, right? Right?
Yeah. Didn’t think so.