Opinion > Star Staff
What Gives: City of Allen throws Armstrong a bone
By J. David Barron
Nothing like kicking a dog while he's down.
Lance Armstrong may have used his ill-begotten glory to benefit the cause of raising money for cancer research, but he's still a dog. He had to cheat - or felt he had to - in order to raise all that money. And as far as can tell, we still don't have a cure for cancer. We're not even any closer to eradicating it.
Even if you've been living in a kennel, you're no doubt aware of the recent discoveries concerning Armstrong. Quite succinctly, he was cheating. We all knew he was, or at least those of us of a sporting mind. During Armstrong's run, every other guy to take the peloton was convicted of doping, save one. That's 13 of 14, sans Armstrong. There's no way one wins seven straight without fudging in a sport where every other body is a dope. Watch cycling on TV (Really?! You need to get a life!) and all you see are cone-headed syringes pedaling away with the determination of a chicken running for cover.
Anyway, a person connected with the city of Allen decided to have a little fun with it. What else do you call it? Jeff Mues, senior marketing director for the Allen Parks and Recreation Department and the Allen Event Center, wrote Armstrong on Oct. 18 to ostensibly invite the now-infamous fraud to compete in the city's annual Rudolph Run. Mues, who apparently takes the sound of his surname seriously, used city letterhead. In defending his motive, Mues said, "We felt he might have a little bit more free time."
Mues wrote the following to Armstrong:
Dear Mr. Armstrong,
You've won seven Tour De Frances. You beat cancer. You helped raise nearly $500 million for the fight against cancer with your Livestrong Foundation. You've done countless commercials for Nike. Needless to say, you've been a busy guy. But with yesterday's news that you are stepping down as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation and no longer will endorse Nike, you finally have some time on your hands for new challenges. As they say, when one door closes, another one opens.
With this in mind, the City of Allen Parks and Recreation Department cordially invites you to compete in the City's annual Rudolph Run on December 1. We understand that you have been banned from both the New York City and Chicago marathons, but we would welcome your participation in either our 5K run or 1 mile fun run, with or without reindeer antlers. Now in its 18th year of existence, this family affair supports the Allen Independent School District - certainly a cause worthy of embracing.
The City of Allen is firmly and adamantly anti-doping, but it should be noted that there will be no testing at Rudolph Run. After all, we are keenly aware that having one's nose wired for electricity as Rudolph is alleged to have done is akin to unnatural performance enhancement. Who are we to judge the rigors of driving a sleigh around the world in one night and/or riding a bike 2,000 miles over grueling terrain during a 23 day time span?
We hope to see you in Allen, just a couple of exits north of your hometown of Plano, on December 1. Furthermore, we wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors. Remember all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call Rudolph names (like Pinocchio). And they never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games (like marathons). But eventually all the reindeer loved him again. And they shouted out with glee. So join us for Rudolph Run and you'll go down in history!
Allen Parks and Recreation
The city has since apologized, saying the letter "may be considered to be in bad taste."
"This was not our intention," further reads the statement. "We had hoped to bring additional exposure to our programs which the run supports. We extend our sincere apologies to anyone who may have been offended."
Come on! City of Allen, grow a pair! The only people who should be offended are those who were duped into giving money and time to Armstrong's charity based on his performances. Or those whom he otherwise cheated, cajoled and bullied into covering for him for this long.
Yeah, the letter was in bad taste. It was also funny! Not to mention pretty darn clever, witty and otherwise ingenious. The letter (which still hasn't been responded to from Livestrong officials, by the way) probably didn't endear Armstrong to Mues or the city of Allen. But it certainly didn't hurt in raising publicity and, therefore, probably funds for the run.
And that's what it's all about - raising money for the kids. So, be sure and get involved in this year's Rudolph Run. You can even put a leash on those dogs that probably need a good kick and take them along. And remember: No drug testing required.
J. David Barron is a staff columnist for Star Newspapers. Reach him at email@example.com.
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