REMEMBER Lance Armstrong (we’ll call him Lámh Láidir from here on out) holding a camán a few years back when he was handed one by Clare’s own All Star hurler Tony Griffin, just as the Ballyea man was about to embark on his memorable marathon trek across Canada on his bike.
Post Oprah, the pictures are worth another look this week – just to see Lámh Láidir’s body language. The way he held the camán; imagining what might have been going through his mind when being introduced to the game for the first time.
Maybe he was thinking about the peleton – how great it would have been to be armed with a camán on the mountain passes of Alpe d’Huez, Mount Ventoux or Col de la Madeleine. All because, just in case Christophe Bassons and his ilk weren’t hounded out of the Tour de France because they wouldn’t juice up, one swing, one clash with this ash, one lowering of this blade and they’d be over the cliff face and gone.
Out of sight, out of mind. Problem solved.
Maybe he thought of what it would be like to swat Paul Kimmage or David Walsh with the camán – God knows he’d spent the guts of a decade trying to do it without the camán, at press conferences when these two noble members of the fourth estate were true to their craft and not cheerleading like the rest of the pack that chased up and down mountains after Lámh Láidir.
Maybe the combination of the camán and the law suits that were filed against anyone who dared question the veracity of seven straight Tour de France victories would have taken the heat off Lámh Láidir.
Lámh Láidir and his camán – a match made in heaven, until this past week that is when it came to lowering the blade on himself, finally falling on his camán by finally admitting that he was nothing but a juiced up fraud on a scale as grand as anything that rolled off the East German production line in the 1980s.
Remember the East Germans before the Berlin Wall came down. Their swimmers. Their sprinters. Remember the way they blitzed all opposition thanks to a drug programme that was institutionalised.
There was drugs in cycling long before Lámh Láidir – just go back to Tommy Simpson who died on stage 13 of the 1967 Tour de France, with the post mortem showing traces of amphetamines in his system.
Two years before he died, Simpson, who was then World Roadrace champion was asked by Eamonn Andrews on BBC Radio of drugs in cycling and he didn’t deny taking them.
Then after he died there was a reporter with the same gumption as Walsh or Kimmage who called it as it was. “Tommy Simpson rode to his death in the Tour de France so doped that he did not know he had reached the limit of his endurance. He died in the saddle, slowly asphyxiated by intense effort in a heatwave after taking methylamphetamine drugs and alcoholic stimulants,” wrote JL Manning in The Daily Mail.
Lámh Láidir was the same as the East Germans in the sense that as the de facto Don Corleone of the peleton he presided over an institutionalized drug programme in his teams, all the while trading on the heroism of a man who had taken on cancer, looked it in the eye and won.
It’s a real pity he got to hold that hurley, a real pity that he duped Tony Griffin and many others into believing his lies and a real pity that he was for so long allowed to get away with bullying and lifting that would-be hurley and lowering it into detractors everywhere by way of more lies and more law suits.
Against that backdrop, in the sporting week that was, thanks be to God for Paul McGinley.
McGinner is the GAA man we should be taking about this week – not Lámh Láidir with his camán. McGinner is a man who stands as the complete polar opposite and antithesis to Lámh Láidir.
While the image of Lámh Láidir with his camán now jars, the image of McGinner in his Dublin blue lifts your heart.
Shows the type of man he is. One who’d be as happy standing on Cnoc 1916 with his old mates from Coláiste Éanna and Ballyboden St Enda’s cheering on the Dubs than he would be anywhere else.
He’s the type of hero we need – the type of antidote to Lámh Láidir and his ilk.
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