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El Jefe

Lance Armstrong: The Next Richard Nixon or Pete Rose?

Lance Armstrong singlehandedly changed American bicycling. He won seven Tours de France. He held off testicular cancer. He dated and about married Sheryl Crow. 

Not long ago, presumably after quitting with the doping, he won his first 70.3 mile triathlon in Florida, up in Haines City.

He is an amazing man. No question. 

Now, as we prepare to hear Oprah Winfrey tearfully discuss his many sins, he's even made the world's most sympathetic rich person a sop. 

For much of my life, I have ridden bicycles. I crossed Florida, from Miami to Tallahassee, and biked from Key Largo to Key West and back. I've made similar voyages in Minnesota and California, Bicycling fitness is important to me. 

Armstrong is the king. He took over the sport as it became an economic and cultural phenomenon. According to one recent study, Americans spend $81 billion per year on bicycling gear. That is more more than we spend on airplane tickets. 

We all watched him and his team dominate Europeans in a sport that we thought could never take off in America.  And we all knew that he, like every other bicycle champion, juiced. They all did. And, before Armstrong, many others were disciplined. 

The man achieved much in his life -- and history might even have resurrected him -- as it did Richard Nixon after the David Frost interviews. Or he could end up like Pete Rose, a disgraced blowhard who just won't shut up. 

Only time will tell.


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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse

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