"When the president does it, that means that it's not illegal" - Richard Nixon
Yes, he actually said that.
How fitting, with the presidential election a week away and one of the all-time cheating scandals in the history of sports unfolding in front of our eyes.
Opinions were plentiful after the long-expected Lance Armstrong doping news came to fruition last week, all of them disappointing and none of it surprising, which is the shame of it all.
Armstrong's big-name sponsors bailed quickly after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report came out and the International Cycling Union finally had the chance to concur. The end result: seven Tour de France titles stripped and a lifetime ban from the sport, his Olympic bronze medal in jeopardy to boot.
I'll admit that I haven't paid a lot of attention to cycling over the years, but I qualify as a fan in the sense that I cheered for Armstrong along with the rest of America while he was racing his way into the record books for seven consecutive summers. I remember feeling a sense of pride because one of "our own" athletes was so dominant globally, that his record would possibly stand forever and it came with a "Made in the U.S.A." tag on it.
So how can it be that the same guy created a moment when you question why you became a sports fan in the first place?
I can't imagine how devoted cycling enthusiasts feel about Armstrong's disgrace, or why in the world anyone would continue to watch a sport with such a tarnished legacy going forward.
But, since I'm not the resident expert, I decided to ask a friend who follows the sport closely, someone that describes its followers as "cult-like" and admittedly refers to the Tour de France as his Super Bowl. He also vehemently defended Armstrong for years until his guy stopped fighting the doping accusations back in August.
His take: "For him to cheat and greatly profit from the results all while carrying the Livestrong Foundation banner on his back the entire way is despicable."
He suggests that the Tour de France should wipe out all of the results from 1996, when Bjarne Riis won the event while doping, to 2010, with Alberto Contador pulling the same nonsense. He mentions asterisks, lots of them.
His biggest concern is the struggle the sport now faces to attract new fans, in particular the younger generation - the childhood version of him that fell in love with cycling at the age of ten by watching Greg LeMond race, and by learning of his inspiring story.
He's afraid that parents might stop supporting the sport on the competitive level with their children. After all, the poster boy for the last decade is now the bad guy, the villain of the cycling world, and a cheater extraordinaire. Who would want their children to compete in such a corrupted environment?
Maybe the Armstrong debacle was just the straw that broke the camel's back for most of us. It certainly wasn't the first and won't be the last of its kind, but the magnitude, the length of deception and the denials were hard to swallow. It just solidifies the sad state of the sport.
The question is: How far did the Armstrong scandal set the sport back?
"Several generations," according to world cycling champion Philippe Gilbert.
Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France champ, adds: "It's a shame that cycling has gone through this again - not a shame that he's been caught."
The high road is not an easy road to travel.
- Jeff Sauer is a longtime western Colorado resident and former Roaring Fork Valley resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.