Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong’s deceit has finally caught up with him, and he is stepping down as chairman of his Livestrong cancer-fighting charity. | Pierre Andrieu~Getty Images
Updated: November 19, 2012 3:39PM
You know it’s bad when Nike, which would support a dictator as long as his AK-47 had a swoosh on it, drops your sorry, saddle-sore butt.
And you know you’ve reached a new low when you finally realize that the charity you’ve been hiding behind for years is hurt more by your presence than by your absence.
So it goes for Lance Armstrong, whose Wednesday morning couldn’t have been much worse. As sweet as these days have been for those of us who were sure Armstrong was a liar and a cheater, it’s tempered by the knowledge that there are still millions of people who still consider him a hero.
His deaf and blind supporters will continue to subject us to arguments that the greater good is the important thing here — that Armstrong’s charity work helped people who wouldn’t have been helped otherwise. They refuse to acknowledge that everything he built, especially Livestrong, his cancer-fighting foundation, stood on a bedrock of deceit.
In other words, the whole thing was a load of nothing, a shell game. Maybe he’ll come clean someday and tell us what compelled him to use performance-enhancing drugs, though I think we know the answer. Ego and competitive drive pushed him, all the way to seven Tour de France titles, which have since been yanked from him.
The bigger question: What sort of person not only wants to beat the system but goes to outlandish lengths to show he’s a wonderful human being? There’s something deeply pathological in that. Armstrong used his charity work as a shield, and if you dared question his integrity, that shield would raise a knot on your head.
Not even his most loyal supporters can ignore what has happened over the last week, and Wednesday’s news was a few more shovels of dirt on the grave of his reputation. Nike doesn’t give up on moneymakers. A Nike athlete could get three DUIs and rob a bank, and the shoe company would release a statement saying, “What, YOU’VE never had a bad day before?” But even it seemed to realize that Armstrong was a lost cause, and, more important, that there was a chance of a backlash from a public that buys Nike products as if they’re necessities.
Armstrong announced he is stepping down as chairman of Livestrong because of the negative attention a damning U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report has cast on his cycling career. The report said that all of his Tour victories were fueled by PEDs, and it included statements from 11 of his former teammates.
If anyone out there is still wearing the yellow Livestrong wristband, please throw it away. You can support cancer research and education in other ways and through other foundations not built on lies. And you won’t have to look like a yellow-tagged fool doing it.