Here are my thoughts:
I have followed Lance Armstrong since the mid-90s. I seen him race pre-cancer in the ’96 Tour DuPont and ’96 Atlanta Olympics. I also enjoyed his Tour de Georgia races. I even saw him get beat on Brasstown Bald. I have read all his books and follow him on Twitter. The past two nights I watched the Oprah interviews.
Lance Armstrong was the great American story even before his cancer in ’96-97. Basically raised by his mother with difficult financial struggles, he was successful with triathlons and bike racing. He was on his way to be one of America’s great cyclists. Then cancer. His near-death cancer sickness devastated many.
He overcome cancer and was leaner and meaner. Not only was he able to defeat cancer, he could ride and compete at a professional level. Simply unbelievable.
I remember one of his first public conferences at the Tour de France when he was accused of doping. His response was too careful, he said “I never have tested positive”. He never said he didn’t dope, he said he didn’t test positive. I had my doubts about his doping since then. Yes hind-sight is 20/20, however I always thought he may be doping. The truth was he still was had an amazing come-back story (doping or not). To be able to compete at that level post cancer.
The establishment of the Livestrong charity, and his come-back story were an inspiration to millions of cancer victims, families, Americans and cyclists. Over $500M was raised for charity.
In recent years other cyclists have started to come clean about their doping from the late-90′s through the 2000′s. Lance always denied such wrong-doing. I was pissed that there was a Federal investigation into his Tour racing. Why are we spending Federal tax dollars on this? There can be no good from this digging. Let the great come-back story and Lance (the American hero) alone. Even if he cheated, he did a whole hell lot of good for a lot of people. He did a lot more good than harm.
So now the media has more news, a hero knocked down from his pedestal. What good is there with this?
Well we finally know some of the truth. The truth is ugly. The fighter, the American hero, the great Lance cheated to achieve greatness. Does this make him less of a hero? I think you can only answer that yourself, do not let the media answer it for you.
Lance did harm the cycling community by tarnishing it’s doping image. He was a leader and others followed his doping.
I think Lance only decided to admit to his doping, cheating and lying when he had no other choice.
My final thoughts: Lance is one hell of a fighter and nobody can take that away from him. It is disappointing the damage that will further occur on the cycling community. It is discouraging to the many that have lost a hero. The great memories of watching Lance in person and on tv are still there. The memories will be tarnished, however still powerful and amazing. He will rise from this. Next stage…….