It was inevitable that Lance Armstrong was going to lose his fight against doping allegations.  The only question was how and when it would happen.

By giving up his defense against the claims of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Armstrong will be stripped of his record setting seven straight Tour de France wins and banned for life from the sport of cycling.

There are a lot of ways to look at one of Sport’s most complex and confounding figures.  Lance Armstrong is undoubtedly the world’s greatest cyclist, a courageous cancer survivor, a philanthropist, and a hero.  But he is also an all-time hypocrite and liar.

I have long believed that Armstrong used PEDs.  The evidence is just too overwhelming to think otherwise.   But certainly Armstrong was not alone.  Common sense tells me that just about all of the world’s top cyclists have been using some form of PEDs for many years, and that to successfully compete, one had to use PEDs.

The most troubling part of this for me is the defiantly hypocritical way that Armstrong has gone about his fight against the allegations.  He first suggested that the French had it in for him and had tampered with his blood samples.  He also contended that the world cycling and doping authorities and the USADA were out to get him.  He further claimed that his teammates had jealously conspired to undermine him.   And even now, his concession statement is laced with denials and accusations, with him essentially admitting to nothing.

I say this even as I understand why he has had to lie.  Armstrong became a heroic symbol of overcoming the odds.  He looked death squarely in the eyes and won.  And he challenged and inspired many other cancer victims to do the same.  As a result Armstrong created an image that is bigger than even he thought possible.

His foundation, Livestrong, is perhaps the most successful sports charity ever established.  The iconic rubber bracelets which can be seen on wrists all over the world became a symbol of hope against the odds.  They have also served to inoculate him in the public against mounting innuendo.

Like so many things in sports we as fans and observers are a big part of this story too.  We have an unquenchable thirst for heroes, and the epic stories of their victories in competition and overcoming insurmountable obstacles outside the field of play.

We help create the legendary Lance Armstrong myth by idolizing him and his achievements.  Our affair with his image became even more complex when we saw how much he accomplished while overcoming cancer, and how much he gave back to us in the form of hope and inspiration with his public appearances and charity.

I wish though that by conceding this fight against the USADA that Armstrong would have done the honorable and decent thing and spoke real truths: That professional cycling is a corrupt and tainted sport, one that is rampant with performance enhancing drugs, and that in order to successfully compete he had to find an edge.

But Armstrong continues to cynically play on the public’s adoration of him and obviously feels compelled to craft a fable of his own making even as his gives up the legal battle.

One day when it suits him he may tell us the real story.

 

 

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