By Brad Spencer
He had cancer. He beat cancer. He won seven Tour de France cycling races in a row. He built a foundation on the celebrity that was created from all the winning, and subsequently raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer survivors. Sounds like a genuinely inspiring human being, doesn't he?
But Lance Armstrong was nothing more than a cheat. He masked his shame about doping by giving back to cancer survivors.
A few weeks ago, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a report that described how Armstrong had organized a systematic doping program for his teams. He waived his right to contest the findings. The International Cycling Union stripped him of all seven of his Tour de France titles. His entire team testified that he doped, yet Armstrong and his lawyers maintain a vast conspiracy to undermine his athletic achievements is behind the latest accusations.
Lance Armstrong is a fraud.
I'm not a cyclist or a cycling aficionado. (I can only take about 15 minutes sitting on the seat of a bike before complaining about severe discomfort in my lower region.) But it's always disappointing news when an athlete at the pinnacle of his sport is found to have achieved greatness under false pretenses.
And worst of all, there's a slight possibility that Armstrong may have been stricken with cancer in the first place due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs. What's that say to young athletes out there? Dope. Get cancer. Beat cancer. Keep doping. Win, become rich and famous, and help other cancer survivors. Live the American Dream!
I know people who brandished those yellow wristbands and did it proudly. I'm sure you did, too. They believed in Armstrong, but now they have to listen as he's compared to disgraced financier Bernie Madoff.
Believing in something or someone in the world of sports is becoming more and more difficult. The rampant cheating that rattled baseball in the late 1990s lingers in the consciousness of fans today. Miguel Cabrera won the triple crown, something that hasn't been achieved in 45 years, and it was basically a non-story.
Meanwhile, the NFL, stock-full of behemoth athletes, continues to flourish — it's considering international play down the road — amid a bounty scandal and lawsuits filed by former players who endured multiple concussions during their careers. Is there a meltdown in the league's future?
Tiger Woods and Joe Paterno never cheated at their sport, but their transgressions — Woods' extra-marital affairs and Paterno's inability to prevent child sexual abuse by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky — left us utterly shocked and bewildered.
Perhaps the one positive out of all this is that, in the midst of these high-profile disappointments, our own pathetic athletic lives seem noble. Yep, throughout the weekly men's league basketball games, the occasional breathless 5K runs, and the several duff rounds of golf per summer, we have conducted ourselves with integrity compared to these jamokes.
Perhaps that alone defines excellence nowadays.
Answer Book 2019
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