LANCE Armstrong's fall from one of the great pinnacles of modern sport is truly a tragedy for those who put their store in the athletic achievement of others.
The Tour de France and other long-distance cycling events were not made-for-TV events unless edited, - until Armstrong beat cancer and came back to win cycling's grand prize a record seven consecutive times.
A number of sports boast that their athletes are the toughest or the fittest. But anyone who takes the time to watch Le Tour must come to the realization that these cyclists are in a class by themselves when it comes to endurance. They essentially race a marathon every day for three weeks - with some of the legs climbing the Pyrenees and the Alps.
Doping plagued Armstrong's sport throughout his years of success. Allegations dogged his career. But, apparently, he passed more than 600 dope tests. This while many of his closest rivals failed.
It's human nature to want heroes. When Armstrong delivered not just once or twice but seven times in a sport previously dominated by European cyclists, he was anointed as a superhero.
But now that he has been proven to be dirty based on teammates' testimony, he is suffering the special condemnation reserved for those pushed from their pedestals.
What is not being questioned enough amid the furor is the role the governing Union Cycliste Internationale played in failing to clean its house and why it is suing the one journalist who has led the fight for clean cycling for 22 years.