January 14, 2013 by shivusharma
This Thursday, an Oprah Winfrey interview with Lance Armstrong will be televised in which Lance confesses to doping and using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) during his seven Tour de France titles. Lance was stripped of his seven titles after a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report brought to light the sophisticated doping scheme employed by his U.S. Postal Service Team.
To be honest, the moment the USADA report came out, I had a strong inkling that the PED accusations made about Lance Armstrong and his teammates were true. Cycling is in a group of sports that is riddled with PED users. In an environment where most everyone is willing to step over the lines of legality to get an edge, you are almost forced to follow suit in order to keep pace with the pack. With testing methods unable to evolve at the same rate that new PEDs are being designed, an environment where cheating is able to perpetuate is created. Lance Armstrong’s use of PEDS still tarnishes his legacy as an athlete though. I feel the same way I felt when the news about Tiger Woods’ extramarital affairs came out. A man whose image was seemingly perfect in the public eye, had now been marred and forever blemished.
At the end of the day, Lance Armstrong was a cyclist. And in the grand scheme of things, I never cared about cycling or the fact that he won
cycling’s premier event seven times. I cared about his story and the inspiration that gave to all of us. I cared about how he beat cancer and worked his butt off to become the best at his sport for a long period of time. But most of all, I cared about how he used his celebrity to help other people. Lance Armstrong beat cancer, but his Livestrong foundation will go on to be his everlasting legacy. The impact that his organization has made in the lives of so many families, cannot really be measured.
I’m never going to remember Lance Armstrong as an athlete who got caught cheating. I will always remember him as an athlete who leveraged his public equity in the right way. I think deep down, that’s also what Lance cares about too, and why he would rather confess to his transgressions now than continue defending a lie. His legacy won’t be that he was a great cyclist who cheated. His legacy will be Livestrong and the impact his foundation has made in the fight against cancer. That’s why I think he is confessing to Oprah Winfrey, because in the long-run, it’s better if he just tells the truth.
You can make an argument that this confession to using PEDs destabilizes the foundation upon what Livestrong was built upon, and I would agree with you to an extent. But even so, what Lance Armstrong has done for the cancer community can never be taken away from him. He put a face on the fight against cancer, the same way Magic Johnson put face on the fight against HIV/AIDS. He was proof that cancer didn’t have to be an end all be all. It was just another one of life’s many obstacles that can be beaten in many cases. Ten or twenty years from now, that is how I will remember Lance Armstrong. I’ll remember him for conquering a terrifying disease, chasing his dreams, attaining celebrity, and using that celebrity to create meaningful positive change. Livestrong, Lance. Confess your heart out. I won’t remember you any less.