It wouldn’t be hard to arrive at the conclusion that Brian Cookson was either daft, deluded or simply believed too strongly in the likelihood of certain people embracing remorsefulness given his recent comments about the role Lance Armstrong could play in shaping the future of cycling. Not a thing is known about the man who recently assumed the most powerful job in the sport. But he mustn’t be daft if he ended up in that position. It’s surely not credible, either, that Mr Cookson would be so deluded as not to see the damage the shamed American has done. All of which can only mean he’s either guilty of fanciful thinking or has misguided faith in remorse.
Specially, Armstrong’s relationship with it. Could somebody who so flagrantly cheated and blatantly lied – in so doing causing what some would class irreparable damage to a sport that decorated him so – not to mention the lives of many people – be genuinely remorseful after behaving so shamefully for so long?
Judgement on that probably depends on how much weight you place on what came out during the interview with Oprah earlier this year. Mostly when it came to the genuine nature or otherwise of the apologies issued to David Walsh, Emma O’Reilly and others. His pathetic attempt to use his illness to justify his actions certainly wouldn’t help his cause.
While some might question the logic of Cookson’s thinking in even considering having Armstrong on the UCI (the sport’s governing body) independent doping commission, at least it represents a change of direction. At least Cookson seems to be taking an immediate, hands on and different direction to what went before him.
Fears that it would effectively amount to the disgraced rider investigating himself must at least begin to surface and are quite understandable. Still, already in his new tenure the new chief appears to be doing more to remedy the way cycling has been sullied for so long than the leadership – or more pertinently lack thereof – that went before him.
Suspicions that a blind eye was either unwittingly or – worse – knowingly turned to what went on by the last regime will take a long time to dissipate. Of course, it could be the case that the surprising approach is being taken to lure Lance in with the ulterior motive of hanging him out to dry when they have him there.
There’d be no need for the kerfuffle that erupted when his mooted inclusion in the commission became known. On top of the ignominy already rightly bestowed upon him, the commission, if it so wished, could dish out whatever further verdict it wished and few would quibble. Especially given the way the rider’s reputation has been tarnished.
Gut feeling is that the new chief has two possible motives for wanting the former kingpin on board at this time. Either to draw Lance out on what could be an encyclopaedic knowledge of the doping malaise that engulfed cycling for so long. Or – as would be suspected – as a way of appealing to the old belief that there must be at least some modicum of decency in every inhabitant of this planet. Thus rendering even someone with as murky clouds as he has hanging over him worth another chance.
The big vagary, mind you, is trying to decipher just where Armstrong’s natural talent ended. He had to have a serious amount of his own talent, you feel, but the big imponderable remains, how much of what he achieved was down to his more nefarious behaviour.
Armstrong’s nomination of his illness as reasoning for his misdeeds was utterly reprehensible. Especially for those whose families have been hit by the vile thing. For all that, even the cement hearted would have to admit that the charity he established – and fronted until his life was scandalised – undoubtedly did a lot of good.
Perhaps the best thing he could do is spill everything he knows about his role and everything else he knows about the sordid goings on in the sport. Thereby finally giving closure to the darkest days in cycling and paving the way for a bright new dawn.