Associated Press picked golfer Tiger Woods to be its Athlete of the Decade, beating out nine other male and female athletes, including Lance Armstrong.
Woods, whose squeaky clean image has been tarnished ever since he crashed backing out of his driveway last month, was chosen for dominating the world of golf for the past 10 years.
Armstrong finished second in voting by AP member editors. Woods got 56 to Armstrong's 33. And Armstrong finished far behind Woods in the number of late-night talk show jokes written about him.
More than half the ballots were turned in after the Woods crash that launched his sex scandal. Woods also has been linked by the New York Times to a Canadian doctor under investigation for providing athletes with performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong, 38, went up against nine other athletes who dominated the headlines and sports world in the first decade of the 21st century.
The 7-time Tour de France champion and a leading spokesman for the fight against cancer probably doesn't need any more accolades. The AP already named him the male athlete of the year in 2002 – 2005, and Sports Illustrated dubbed him Sportsman of the Year in 2002.
Even so, I would have liked to see him get the recognition for dragging the sport of cycling out of the agate boxes of sports pages and onto the front of the section, at least for 21 days each summer. He helped to popularize bicycling in this country from the pro level right down to the weekend warriors and recreational cyclists.
I don't know if that claim can be made for anyone else in their chosen sport.
Never a bad day
The AP biography of Armstrong was written by John Leicester. He writes about the Texan's supporters, as well as his detractors. There's a great quote from cyclist Stuart O'Grady:
“Everyone has a bad day, an off day but Lance is that well trained that it never happens to him. Hats off. For seven years, to never fall sick, to never have (a serious) accident. The level of professionalism that he's shown has made cycling that much bigger. Armstrong is a superstar, a celebrity in all aspects of life.”
Then, after being out of pro cycling for three years, he comes back to finish 3rd in the Tour de France.
Here's who Armstrong and Woods were up against:
Tom Brady, football; Usain Bolt, Olympic track; Barry Bonds, baseball; Kobe Bryant, basketball; Roger Federer, tennis; Michael Phelps, Olympic swimming; Annika Sorenstam, golf, and Serena Williams, tennis.
The Modesto Bee has summaries on these other athletes.
Update: The New York Times interviewed Armstrong about Woods and asked what he should do considering all the controversies swirling around him:
“I would encourage him to get out there and be seen.”