Lance Armstrong – even mention of the guy’s name makes my skin crawl. For me, it’s the deception. Yes over what he ‘achieved’ on the bike under a cloud of shame. But the deceit goes even further than that.
There’s trying to decipher what was real from what wasn’t. I mean, he was obviously a very gifted cyclist, but, how much would he have won without the nefarious assistance? Then, worst of all in my view, was the false hope he gave fellow cancer sufferers on foot of his ‘victories’ and the iconic status he reached because of it.
The damage he inflicted on the sport he graced and then disgraced may be incalculable. Not to mention the far wider-reaching ramifications of his scurilous and indefensible actions.
Though the following turns my gut, in mitigation for the slime ball, he was far from alone in dabbling on the wrong side of the tracks. And at this point it must also be stated that the peloton is far from the only group of sports people to have the cloud of doping hanging over them.
Indeed, it may be harder to find a sport that hasn’t been afflicted by the vile curse. There are certain disciplines which, it would be wagered, bookmakers wouldn’t offer you odds on the prevalence of prohibited substances therein.
Tennis would absolutely be very near the top of any such assembly. The durability, stamina and athleticism required to prosper in the battle of the green balls can’t all be put down to optimum conditioning and Robinson’s Lemon Barley squash.
Social media can be both blessing and curse in equal measure. Though even the most ardent advocate of the cross-court action must acknowledged that footage doing the rounds on Twitter today – at least – doesn’t paint the sport in a good light.
Whether the video clip has been corroborated by now is unknown, but, basically it appears to show Novak Djokovic’s ‘corner’ engaged in a very elongated process to refill the Serb’s water bottle between games. Not only that, but they also appeared to quite deliberately position themselves in a manner precluding anybody from seeing what they were up to.
They’d hardly be so secretive about their activities if they were only mixing water and Lemon Barley. Doing its very best to stave off foreboding feelings about wrongdoings is what was – and for the time being still is – a fervent belief that Djokovic is quite simply a supremely talented individual considerably better than his contemporaries in his chosen field of expertise.
Though even if that was the case, father time won’t wait for him, no more than would be the case for anybody else. Something underlined by his recent defeat by a complete unknown in the Final of Paris Masters.
But then, even Novak himself was an unknown at one time. He’s certainly not that now, thus, his every move is watched, scrutinised and documented intensely. To that end, there are times when you can’t avoid feeling he doesn’t help himself.
He’s certainly not afraid to court controversy. Remember how his stubborn thickness with regard to the Covid-19 jabs which kept him out of the Australian Open earlier this year.
More recent developments, though, if they are to believed, would leave the player with even more shady questions to answer. Now, naturally, those who have the player’s back will point out that “He has never failed a drug test”.
Presuming, as of now at least, that the above is true, the question must be asked why were they so keen to shield what they were doing from general view.
Though it pains me to say this, I think we are the only dopes if we swallow such a bland, throwaway dismissal of what could clearly be seen in the clip. That is to say, strenuous efforts to prevent what Djokovic’s team were up to only aroused a whole other bottle full of suspicion.
As Private Fraser was prone to observing in Dad’s Army there’s no smoke without fire.