Gumbel on Lance: Live stronger, and get all French on ‘em

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HBO’s “Real Sports” host Bryant Gumbel, who last made news when he ripped the late Gene Upshaw for being a puppet for the NFL and not representing the NFLPA as he was supposed to, now offers this on Lance Armstrong that’ll air at the end of tonight’s episode (10 p.m.):

“Finally tonight a few words about Lance Armstrong, the cyclist whom many Americans view as a champion and many Frenchmen have labeled a tricheur, or cheater. Having won the Tour de France a record seven times under a never ending cloud of suspicion, Armstrong is saying that he may not be allowed to compete for an eighth title this July as a result of his latest run-in with the drug police.

“The run-in happened a month ago when a French anti-doping official paid Armstrong a surprise visit and demanded some samples. Lance, in what French officials say is a violation of the testing rules, then disappeared for 20 minutes. During that time, while he had an aide supposedly confirming the official’s credentials, Armstrong found it oh so convenient to take a shower. That shower may or may not have helped Lance pass the test, but it did nothing to cleanse Armstrong of the scent that’s defined him for a decade.

“In a sport notorious for the pervasiveness of doping, Armstrong, throughout a series of accusations and denials, has always claimed that he was what the French would call drogue librement, or drug free. Like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens and assorted other suspected dopers, Armstrong has never failed a drug test…but he’s also never quite passed the duck test. That’s especially fitting for the French, who see Armstrong’s entire act as a canard.

“Those who buy his act and think Lance is being victimized by foreigners who can’t stomach an American’s superiority, will no doubt see his exclusion from this year’s Tour de France as patently unfair. Others will surely see karma at work and feel that his banishment has been a long time coming. Either way, it seems that Lance Armstrong may have finally given French officials good reason to tell him not just au revoir, but also bon debarras. That’s French for good riddance.”

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