Backstory yellowed objectivity

Sport's perennial and desperate search for an inspiring story, a fairytale comeback amidst the grime and sweaty humdrum of every day competition and plain winners might have led to its biggest disaster: Lance Armstrong. The story of the cancer survivor returning to win one of sport's most gruelling events seven times in a row looks so jaundiced now that even the usually melodramatic genre of Oprah Winfrey inquisitions struggled to fit in solemn moments and pregnant pauses.

Armstrong's deceit in exploiting his medical setback puts an almighty question-mark on the world's sweeping embrace of a touching backstory which gently yellowed objectivity and obscured all those lone voices urging scrutiny and suspicion. "This story was so perfect for so long. It's this myth, this perfect story, and it wasn't true," the man himself said. Armstrong viewed this as "one big lie" that he repeated a lot of times before this "mythical" story of his own victories, in sport and over cancer, began to prick a rock-hard conscience fortified by a cocktail of testosterone, EPO and a ruthless obsession to win.

International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid while trying to extricate the cycling body from the tentacles of this scandalous confession also pointed to one of the most beguiling offences — "producing a backdated medical prescription to justify a test result." It was perhaps the one time that the Texan had returned a positive and the one time he shamelessly fell back on his illness to get himself the clean chit.

His own foundation Livestrong's statement sighed that it was disappointed. While his clear-cut affirmatives to Winfrey's Yes-No posers should suffice in establishing guilt, it is the fans' and media's eager lapping up of a ready backstory that will leave the bitterest of aftertaste, for helping the disgraced cyclist prolong his choice of living in denial.

Shivani is a special correspondent based in Mumbai

shivani.naik@expressindia.com

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