Well, the last couple of days haven’t been too kind to the world’s Armstrong fraternity; 7 time Tour de France winner Lance has declined to enter into arbitration proceedings against USADA, the US Federal Anti-Doping body whom have accused him of being part of a systematic doping program during his tenure as a professional cyclist, who now state that (in their eyes) he forfeits all awards and prizes earned after August 1st, 1998. This means that his 7 Tour titles are no longer his. Also, he can no longer compete in any sport that abides by the World Anti-Doping Code.

The other Armstrong? 82 year old former astronaut, test pilot, college professor and the first man on the moon, Neil, has unfortunately succumbed to complications that occurred after a recent heart operation to unblock several coronary arteries.

Lance Armstrong is a lot of things to a lot of people. I was listening to talkback radio this morning and it’s evident that guilty or not, he is still held in significantly high esteem by those that have followed his progress from cancer survivor to champion of the cycling world. To come back from where he did to dominate the sport for so many years truly is a monumental achievement. That the man has raised $500m for worldwide cancer research and support through his charity, Livestrong, is also noteworthy. So many people have invested their hearts and minds in Lance that if he is guilty of doping, a huge majority of the world have egg on their faces for believing him in the first place. Like a massive American Bank in the throes of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, the Lance Armstrong show is too big to fail (even if, like the Banks, he put himself in this situation to begin with…)

To be honest, I think he was part of a systematic doping culture and is as guilty as sin. Are his 7 Tour wins less valid because of this? Considering that a number of his fellow competitors have been found guilty of exactly the same thing, perhaps not. After all, a drug-dominated level playing field is still a level playing field. I honestly believe that Armstrong has declined to enter into arbitration because he knows that if USADA are given the forum to air the evidence that they have against him, his well-honed martyr act will no longer hold any weight and the tide of public opinion will quickly turn on him (as we are bound to do with sports people, holding them aloft on our collective shoulders only to strike them down should they displease us in any way).

Neil Armstrong – The baddest motherfucker on (or off) the planet.

That other (far more amazing) Armstrong is the first man to put a foot on the Moon. Yes, that’s right, he walked ON THE FUCKING MOON. Walk out of your house and look up at night… see that grey thing? Yep, he landed a lunar module on that rock and bounced around on its surface for a whole two and a half hours. That’s just totally, utterly mental.

Neil Armstrong obtained his pilots’ licence by the age of 15. He wasn’t even old enough to drive yet. He spent a period of time as a Naval Aviator in the Korean War, flying 78 combat missions including one in which his aircraft was severely damaged by anti-aircraft fire (he successfully nursed it home). He then worked as a test pilot, flying aircraft such as the infamous rocket-powered North American X-15 up to 63.2km above the Earth’s surface, reaching speeds of up to 6,615km/h. This was before he’d even started training as an astronaut…

Armstrong was the epitome of all that Americans could achieve at that time; he’d personally answered JFK’s clarion call in the early 60s for the United States to step foot on the moon before the decade was out and became a national hero and international celebrity in the process. His was a form of celebrity that I believe in. He achieved something that few others have or ever will. The irony? He was a reserved man who didn’t like the limelight and preferred to teach engineering at The University of Cincinnati than be lauded at awards ceremonies or gladhanded by politicians.

Neil Armstrong – a legitimate contender for the ‘Baddest Motherfucker on the Planet’ award. Godspeed, Commander.

/end communication

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