Lance Armstrong was supposed to be the sporting hero of our generation, one we talked about for many, many, years to come. His was a swan story we should have relished telling. Just like that of Steve Jobs, sporting legend Billie Jean King and that epic match, or the formidable return of Monica Seles…all those people who dared to dream and achieved the incredible, against all odds. We should have talked about what a legend Lance Armstrong was, how he beat the odds and came back to do the unbelievable. He battled and survived testicular cancer and won the Tour de France seven times; two stages won prior to his diagnosis, in 1993 and 1995, and upon his return to the sport, between 1999-2005, he won the Tour seven consecutive times. At 22 years old he was the youngest road racing champion ever.
That story was meant to inspire.
But you know that saying; if its too good to be true, then it probably is? Lance Armstrong was too good to be true. Still, we wanted him to be true. His fall from grace will forever be known as the most sophisticated doping scandal in sporting history. In June 2012 the US Anti-Doping Agency USADA, in the wake of its investigation into the cyclist, charged him with using performance enhancing drugs. In August, the Agency stripped him of all his titles and issued him with a lifetime ban from the sport. Today, the 22nd of October 2012, the Union Cycliste International UCI, in concurrence with the findings of the USADA, upheld that lifetime ban and stripped Armstrong of all the titles he held since 1998. This sucks. And it hurts. I was one of those who thought, here we go again, cynics and conspiracy theorists out to get another great sporting hero when we don’t have enough of them around. Somewhere in the back of my mind I pray this is true and one day he will be vindicated. I want to believe that this is just one big mistake, that someone did something wrong or switched lab tubes, like you see in CSI…here’s hoping. But the details against this fallen hero, are just too concrete for even the most loyal fan to ignore. Over the years there have been stories alluding to Armstrong’s malfeasance, his motivation and desire to win was called into question, hints about doping…but we ignored them because we didn’t want to believe that our hero would stoop so low. Some say, big whoop, doping in sports is hardly a new phenomenon. Everybody does it and those who do it well, do not get caught. But we all know that just because everybody does it, doesn’t make it right or okay. And Lance Armstrong should have been the stand up guy, an exception to that mentality, the one to dispute all those cynics out there and his story should have been the perfect bedtime allegory. It was supposed to inspire millions of youths around the world, teach them about how hard work and determination can get you anywhere you want to be in life, “to dream the impossible dream”, and all those sugar coated phrases out there. I may be waxing lyrical about this but such was his greatness. Damnit! he should have been a bottom line when we talk about our sporting greats not just another doping case. This is why it hurts. And we’ll all just like to know one thing Mr Armstrong; was it worth it?