The old saying goes that if something is too good to be true, it often is. Before this year, Lance Armstrong represented the ultimate story of a man’s triumph over disease and himself as the Texan went on to win seven Tour de France titles, a record. While there were always whispers of drug use, the accepted wisdom especially from the media at large was that Armstrong was clean. Legends don’t come easy.
Sadly, the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s report on Armstrong released recently, labelling him as a serial cheat, has shown his legend to be just that, a myth generated by a career of doping and misinformation. A week after announcing it would stand by Armstrong (as it did when revelations of golfer Tiger Woods’ sexual antics came out), Nike decided to expunge their relationship with the American, the heaviest price Armstrong has paid thus far.
He also resigned as chairperson of his charity Livestrong, which helps people suffering from cancer. There is no doubt Armstrong’s name will soon be parodied as Woods was in an episode of South Park.
For all those who believed that Armstrong had accomplished the tremendous through hard work, dedication and determination, it’s a sharp wake-up call, which sadly has created more cynics in the cycling world — if all cycling fans weren’t cynics already considering their sport has been mired in drug-related scandals for years now.
The reported sophistication of Armstrong’s operation and the number of witnesses willing to tell the USADA that he was the ringmaster, reveals a man who would do whatever it took to win, choosing team-mates for their complicity rather than their skill as the number-one determining factor.
The Legend of Lance Armstrong has turned into Ultimate Betrayal (and Denial), as the man will now be forever haunted by his ill-gotten accomplishments. I almost feel sorry for him.