Lance Armstrong helped the world by cheating
BY DAVID MOULTON Scripps Howard New Service January 14, 2013 1:18PM
Lance Armstrong competes in the Rev3 Half Full Triathalon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012 in Ellicott City, Md. Armstrong joined other cancer survivors in the event which raised funds for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)
Lance Armstrong apparently is coming clean.
Does it matter?
Does it change anything or everything?
Will it change your opinion of him?
This is the one story of alleged cheating where many don’t want to hear about it and/or don’t even care he did it.
Because he’s both a fraud and a hero.
He’s the greatest cyclist of all time and a disgrace.
He did more for more people than almost any athlete ever.
Or is he a liar, a bully and the worst of sports?
Can’t he be both or do we have to pick a side?
Is this a simple black-and-white story, or a complicated one where the ends justify the means?
Lance Armstrong nearly died from cancer, beat it, returned to cycling, and allegedly took performance-enhancing drugs and blood doped as part of the greatest illegal sports scheme ever. By doing so, he won seven straight Tour de France titles, and as a cancer survivor became not just admired but deified. He personally made well over $100 million, but raised roughly half a BILLION in the fight against cancer.
After over a decade of denials, he has lost everything he has won in cycling.
Armstrong was stripped of his titles and banned from the sport for life last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping agency issued a detailed report accusing him of leading a drug program on his U.S. Postal Service teams that included steroids, blood boosters and a range of performance-enhancing drugs.
Monday, he was to sit down with Oprah Winfrey at his home in Austin, Texas, to begin what an associate describes as “a pathway to redemption.” The interview will air Thursday.
Does your soul and dignity have a price? If so, is it worldwide fame and millions of dollars?
Now cycling and the Tour will go back to merely being a niche sport and event. Except we all know about it now, which you can easily argue makes both better off because of Lance.
It would be nice if, over time, American Greg LeMond could receive even a slice of the accolades in the U.S. that we bestowed upon Armstrong.
First, he won the Tour de France three times in 1986, 1989 and 1990, before the sport went to the dark side.
Second, he maintained for a generation that something was not legit about Lance’s achievements.
Third, his final two Tour wins came after being shot in a hunting accident. The second win was achieved by overcoming a deficit in the final sprint stage that is arguably the greatest performance on a bike in the Tour’s history.
But while cycling history sorts itself out, so too will human history in the months and years to come.
Lance Armstrong was a world-class cyclist.
Who allegedly cheated.
Along the way he became filthy rich.
Yet he enriched the lives of millions and raised hundreds of millions more to fight cancer.
Sports may or may not be better off because of Lance Armstrong. That’s a healthy debate.
Lance Armstrong, maybe to even greater heights than alleged steroids users Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa put together, became better off by allegedly cheating.
Yet the world is also clearly better off because of Lance Armstrong, with the half a billion raised to fight cancer (never mind the millions he inspired by overcoming it). So was it worth it?
If we could go back in time 15 years, would we want Lance to cheat or race clean?
I’m not proud to say it. Deep down I still believe, if I were in his shoes, that I wouldn’t.
But knowing how this all played out, for everyone and everything.
If he was faced with the choice of doing it all again?
I’d want him to cheat.