Thursday, September 21, 2023

Lance Armstrong has a strong opinion on trans in sport, scandal in the middle of reality TV show

Away from the cycling world for years because of the revelations and his confessions concerning doping, Lance Armstrong returned to the forefront of the media scene in the United States this summer, via a reality show produced by the American channel Fox. This “show” brings together twelve celebrities including the former US Postal runner. He is accompanied by American footballers Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman, figure skater Adam Rippon and Bruce Willis’ daughter, Tallulah Willis.

In “Stars on Mars,” which began airing in June and is still ongoing, celebrities must “survive on Mars,” in other words, in conditions slightly akin to the Red Planet. The goal: to become the “brightest star in the galaxy” after a series of trials, physical tests and eliminations. To complete the whole, the candidates receive the instructions of William Shatner, the interpreter of the famous captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek. An animator slightly better known in the galaxy than Denis Brogniart.

“You want to make the transition, let’s do it”

In theory, the TV program is meant to be a playful entertainment moment for people who want to try and imagine life more than 50 million miles from Earth. Yet he has been at the heart of the controversy since Lance Armstrong himself spoke out about the introduction of transgender athletes into sport in mid-July.

According to the seven-time winner of the fallen Tour de France, the “thing is simple”. “You want to make the transition, let’s do it. Have your own category. We will make a new division for you”, launched the American in an excerpt from the shooting. He considers himself “the most liberal person in the world”, but stands against the mixing of genres “from a sporting point of view”.

An outcry and a pending abandonment

This speech defending the exclusion of trans people in sport did not meet with unanimous approval, neither in the public nor among the other participants in the show. Amazed figure skater Adam Rippon described his compatriot’s words as “disheartening” when actress Ariel Winter accused him of “ostracizing people who don’t fit into categories”.

Vexed, Lance Armstrong threatened to leave the show. “Ariel, let me be very clear: I don’t need this drama,” the former cyclist said during one of the latest episodes. “I struggled for nine days, I will struggle on the tenth day and I will self-select to leave”. Fortunately, the night brings advice: the next morning, the 51-year-old sportsman changed his mind. “Guys, I decided to change my mind. I slept well and trained well, so I decided not to get knocked out,” he announced. And to add: “I will hang on”. We are reassured.


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