Wednesday, October 10, 2012


This man is important to me.

I don't really follow "biking" as a sport, but of course, I've seen and heard a lot of this guy.

Lance Armstrong survived impossible odds. Yes, so did I, but, I might have ended up a partial paraplegic in a wheelchair. This man has dealt with killer cancer, more than once. I think that he has allowed us into his life so that we could learn from what he learned, about fighting for his life.

Six weeks ago, Lance Armstrong stopped fighting the United States Anti-doping Agency, known as the USADA. For 13 years, he's been fighting with the USADA, contesting their charges that he took performance enhancing drugs.

The USADA can now conclude that Lance Armstrong cheated -- that he DID take performance enhancing drugs. It means that he can be stripped of all seven of his titles and banned from the sport of cycling for life. He will lose the Bronze Medal he won at the 2000 Olympics. He will also be required to return money he's been winning since 1998.

Back in 1996, Lance, at age 25, was already considered one of the best cyclists in the world. He had aches and pains that he ignored until one of his testicles swelled to three times its normal size. When he finally consulted a doctor, he learned that he had testicular cancer -- it had already metastasized into his lymph nodes, lungs, and brain.

He had two surgeries -- the cancerous testicle was removed, then two cancerous lesions on his brain were removed. While proceeding with four rounds of chemotherapy, he created the Lance Armstrong Foundation that's been raising money to fight cancer and help patients ever since.

Busy fighter Lance went on to win the Tour de France seven times -- every year from 1999 to 2005; He was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 2002. The Associated Press deemed him "Male Athlete of the Year" from 2002 to 2005. He's won a lot of money. According to the Forbes survey, he's worth about $125 million; he earns about $20 million a year. The foundation has raised almost a half-billion dollars.

So, did Lance Armstrong use dope?

A few weeks ago, in Newsweek, Buzz Bizzinger, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and author, said maybe he did, and maybe he didn't -- perhaps the drugs he needed to conquer cancer, and stay alive, did enhance his performing abilities. Armstrong has publicly admitted that he used the banned blood booster EPO, testosterone, corticosteroids, and blood transfusions; he admitted that he used "masking" agents.

All that is what the USADA calls "doping."

According to the New York Times, at least a third of the top 10 finishers (Armstrong is included in this group), have either officially admitted to using performance enhancers or been officially suspected of doping.

So do we now declare Armstrong as yet another fallen sports idol?

This guy has inspired us -- his sheer courage -- his unshakable determination to keep biking, maintain his athleticism, and live. He’s been married twice, has five children, three from sperm he donated earlier; his youngest two were conceived naturally.

So why, after 13 years of fighting the USADA, did he drop his lawsuit against them?

Lance told the Newsweek reporter, “For my own mental health. For my family. For the foundation. And for the sport of cycling. Cycling doesn’t need this. I am more at ease and at peace than I have been in 10 years. I am focused on today and what will happen in the future.”

Golly, I wish I could send him a message and say wow, Mr. Armstrong -- your courage inspires us all.

Armstrong himself said, "I'm just a guy who got through a disease and I don't deserve any credit for that. I was just very lucky."

Wow -- let's hold onto those words. Let’s hold onto this man as a hero who has taught us, shown us how to take what comes and translate happenstance into amazing, wonderful, real life reality.


Ameer S. Washington said...

Lance Armstrong has done some remarkable things and growing up as a teenager and being a young adult in college while he was winning from 1999 to 2005 was totally inspiring. I cheered for him and even watched the events on occasion when I could. When I read the report this summer, I didn't want it to be true that he used the drugs, just because I wanted the purity of his story to still exist. He beat an incredible disease that anyone else might have very well succumbed to. I wanted to think of him in that manner. We need heros like him for young people to look up to, who can say hey, no matter the obstacle, you can overcome if you believe.

However, what I did read in the article this summer is that the statute of limitations on Armstrong had long passed after his initial retirement back in 2004, but like so many great athletes whose sport becomes their life, he had to come back. He had to try one more time. He had to seek the thrill of performance and championship when it was likely that no one would have ever have come close to topping his record in a hundred years. His name would have stood the test of time. But he had to scratch the itch, rather than let it come and go on its own. He had to be like Muhammad Ali and take one too many fights. He had to be like Michael Jordan and come back and become among the rest of the really great players of the time rather than to simply exist as a legend. It is partly his own passion and desire to be that living icon on the field of battle that allowed the allegations to resurface with more fuel and fury than before. Thus if he had "doped" he had "doped" and gotten away with it. Giving up on the fight in many people's minds is the same as admission of guilt.

I don't know what the future holds for Mr. Armstrong, but there was no one else pedaling his bike, swinging his arms in the sea, or pushing his legs for miles upon miles. Could it all be attributed to performance enhancing substances which may have been the only thing to help him go? I can't say. But the one thing I do no is that our system often wants purity as impure as the people administering the judgement are, rather than an iconic image that people can look up to. If it were my choice, I would lay the issue to bed on the condition that Mr. Armstrong never race again. For it is often the one taint that destroys the giving and positive qualities that men and women put forth and that in and of itself is often sad.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Lance Armstrong used dope to enhance his performance. Or if he did, that it did enhance his performance. It hasn't been proven.
He's been tried and found guilty by the media. Because of his refusal to fight the USADA any more. Does this make him guilty?
We know that he battled cancer numerous times. We know that he succeeded in a sport that demands performance beyond human endurance and pain.
He has established that he is brave.
He created a foundation to raise money to help fight cancer.
He has established that he is generous.
He admitted to taking drugs in his battle with cancer. These drugs are contentious.
He has established that he is honest.
Now he has dropped his lawsuit against the USADA.
He has said that he is at peace.
Perhaps David just got fed up wrestling with Goliath. It happens.
In no way diminishes the heroism of this man.
Louise Sorensen
louise3anne twitter

Pete Slidell said...

I'm not a biking fan either, but I've read enough about Lance to be inspired by him and to reverently admire the man. I enjoyed your article very much.

It should be blatantly obvious to anyone with common sense that his major crime was to piss off some bureaucrat inside the governing body that is now after his ass. I truly despise a person like that.

I hope that Lance will somehow win this thing before it's over.


RCToyPalace said...

Em, Lance is not a fallen hero, to me, anyway. Anyway you slice it, he has survived cancer, as well as cancer treatment, and while doing all that, he was still competing, on long bike runs. Judge, or not, there aren't too many others like him.

Anonymous said...

Okay...may as well post both..this is the one from the New York Times: "Lance Armstrong at Center of Cycling’s Most Sophisticated Doping Program, Officials Charge

The United States Anti-Doping Agency said Wednesday that Lance Armstrong was at the center of the most sophisticated and professional doping program in recent sports history and that it would soon release details of its findings.

The file, as described by the agency, would be the most most extensive, groundbreaking layout of Armstrong’s alleged doping, bolstered by unprecedented interviews, financial statements and laboratory results."

Linda Phillips

Anonymous said...

Good article on Armstrong. I have always admired his sporting skills and survival of
cancer etc. He is a winner in my book, no matter what the media says. kam

Jayne Logan said...

Thank you Emily. I have read the latest regarding a 200 page report including testimony evidence of his wife administering the steroids to the team members in the hotel rooms. All have given separate sworn statements divulging this and much more. If the team members did not partake in his/and his wife's extortion scheme they were off the team. They acquiesced. Until now. As for the providers of his medicines and illegal dope (and enough for his teammates), I sense a larger story there. Doctors? Who? What was their cut? I feel he used his illness, Cancer, as a sympathy card. He's not the first. Yes, he is extraordinary. But Cancer and Bicycling are two entirely different matters. He harmed people with kind hearts, began a foundation whose books I would now question + investigate. He's harmed the sport and in so doing we are learning this sport may well be polluted with corruption and doping. I am glad the committee persisted and is getting to the bottom of this seemingly shameful + unjust behaviour. And now he is attempting to give the impression it is his decision to end the legal "fight", his alleged defense. So, once again he attempts to deceive adoring fans of he and his sport saying he is now taking the rest he so deserves. He is a controlling narcissist and his lies will now come back to bite him in the one testicle he has left. Respectfully, my opinion. @JayneLogan_Mxxx

Maria said...

I couldn't agree with you more Em.

Kev Atomic said...

Whatever he is or isn't, I wouldn't call him "fallen." I tend to think things have a way of working out the way they're supposed to, and from his own statement, he's happy to put all this behind him and have some peace after many years of different types of battles.

Further, I wouldn't claim to know what he did or didn't do as it pertains to "cheating." Ultimately, I think of him as a human being-imperfect-as we all are. Certainly he's inspired many people-maybe that's admirable, or maybe he was "just lucky" as he says.

So I guess, I'd just say he's a popular dude that has inspired lots of people, but is now tired and needs to put this behind him; neither "fallen" nor a saint-just a dude-a fellow human being.