The Tournament of Books  |   A champion is decided as The Good Lord Bird meets Life After Life

Ads via The Deck

Spoofs & Satire

MarketStrong

After resigning in disgrace from the charity he helped found and losing his sponsorship with Nike, Lance Armstrong now must cope with the leak of his new memoir—excerpted here.

Credit: Loren Javier

It is in the final stages of a bike race when all hope looks lost. Your muscles have turned to rubber, your brain is pure mush, and you can’t bear to think how grueling the next hundred miles winding through the mile-high chasms of the Pyrenees will be.

In those dark moments of bleakness and suffering, when pain is your only companion, that is when you have to turn to yourself, dig deep, and discover new techniques of surreptitiously injecting human growth hormone into your bloodstream. It is when the soul feels like it has hit rock bottom and there is nowhere left to turn, that is when that inner fire needs to reignite itself with a series of corticosteroid doses followed by a saline solution flush that will help bypass French drug regulations. When the going gets tough, you need to reach down and find those obscure, untested, oxygen-boosting drugs that nobody has ever heard of.

Because, when it comes down to it, it’s just you, alone, out there against the elements. You, and your teammates who are coordinating a massive drug ring to win at an almost completely corrupted, drug-fueled sport no matter what the cost.

And that’s all that matters: winning. Winning by any means necessary—even if it means possibly getting androgen-independent testicular cancer from the unholy cocktail of untested medicines you ingest on a regular basis, sabotaging and blackballing those around you who might speak out, and then turning your survivor story into a feel-good tale of the human spirit that will sell rubber bands and other branded trinkets. Those trinkets, some of which oddly look like the yellow "Do Not Resuscitate" bands used in hospitals, will empower those who believe that all it takes to defeat disease is willpower rather than anything to do with avoiding toxic carcinogens. But it will all be for a good cause.

Your inner momentum will carry you from celebrity fundraiser to celebrity fundraiser all on its own, becoming a burning diesel engine solely designed to keep up appearances.

And that cause, which is aimed at providing something called "awareness," mainly amounts to a glorified, self-indulgent marketing campaign for thinking positively. Who knows if that cause might be better served by denouncing the drugs that may have given you this disease in the first place? But rather than finding a possible cure, promoting prevention, or helping defray the cost of treatment for others, you have to double-down and push. Find that second gear that allows you to indulge in ever-greater marketing schemes, speaking tours, promotional benefits, and for-profit operations that feed off the valiant nature of your previous work.

If you have that fire in your soul, that rage in your heart, you may even bring your charity work to a new level, where it will spend over half of its largesse on building the awareness it was originally advertised to do. And by that time, your inner momentum will have the power to carry you from celebrity fundraiser to celebrity fundraiser all on its own, becoming a burning diesel engine solely designed to keep up appearances.

And those appearances will speak volumes to the young riders out there. It will say to those future egalitarian superheroes that striving to be the best is the only way to break through the threshold of mediocrity. And eventually those same brave young turks will spiral into depression once they realize it’s physically impossible to break through the threshold of mediocrity and achieve those kinds of ride times without a constant IV drip of anabolic steroids.

Their struggle will give you strength, which you’ll need because there will always be inferiors—lapdogs biting at the heels of your success—trying to bring you down. The naysayers, the doubters, the regulatory committees. Ignore them. Your focus is on the goal and nothing else. That goal may become increasingly vague the more you actively destroy the integrity of the sport you helped champion, throwing all of your legitimate successes into doubt, but this shouldn’t stop you from charging ahead, full-throttle, into the void while belittling the enemy every chance you get.

And all that work will eventually be rewarded. Embracing this ethos of pure holistic denial leads one to the path of transcendental disembodiment, allowing your spirit to abandon any sense of shame and separate itself from the torpid existence of the physical plane. Having built the memory castle of hypocrisy, you are now free to surpass the pain barrier and enter the zone of infinite brilliance that precedes the new erotic dawn where the soul will be purged in a light of populist success and surrounded by a supportive entourage.

From this vaunted position, look down upon those lowly minions without spandex or aluminum frames who have not willfully suffered as you have and sympathize one last time, for you have become a steroid-fueled, sweaty god amongst mortals.