Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Lance Armstong - should he be forgotten?

Lance Armstrong. He was considered one of the sporting greats, a hero to many. He won the prestigious Tour de France seven times, one of the most gruelling sporting events in the world - an extraordinary feat for a man who has also fought cancer. Yet now his legacy is slowly being erased.

Since the findings from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) into Lance Armstong, the UCI decided to follow these findings and strip the Texan of all 7 titles, therefore erasing his most historic wins. He has been banned from the sport of Cycling for life, and USADA has branded Armstong a 'serial cheat', who ran the "most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme the sport has ever seen." 

Now the question is: should he deserved to be forgotten?

For USADA and the UCI to get these findings, there must be sufficient evidence - those from Armstrong's team-mates in the US Postal Service Team and other members. In my opinion, there is no denying it - Armstrong cheated the system. I was bitterly disappointed when I first heard of the story; like many, I had seen Armstrong as a hero, someone to inspire to with his courage and sporting talent. To me now, that has gone. 

Cycling is full of doping and cheats - every year, stories come out of the Tour de France and other races due to doping. It's common - it's a brutal sport where cheating is seen to help and give you an advantage over your opponents. Back when Armstrong was conducting this programme, doping was at its' peak - everyone did it apparently. Yet, why wasn't more done to stop this? How did Armstrong get away with this?

Don't get me wrong, I still have some degree of respect for Lance Armstrong - how he battled Cancer and then set up the Livestrong foundation and how many lives have been helped by that is incredible. I'll take my hat to him for that. But in sporting terms? Any respect is gone. His fall from grace is sharp and doesn't look like slowing anytime soon - Nike, Oakley and Trek have all ended their sponsorship deals with Armstrong, and his reputation as one of the sporting greats has been tarnished and now erased. People will want to remember him for his Livestrong work but can that really happen, when this is such a big programme that lasted so many years? Many people now will just see the cheat and not the cancer survivor - even himself has resigned as chairman of his fountain, his charity work also being affected.

So should Lance Armstrong be forgotten? In the cycling world, maybe. They are cheats all of the time, some forgiven, some not. But just the magnitude of his successes just all wiped away - maybe one day in the future, he will be forgotten. But in terms of what he has done for his foundation, then no. The two shouldn't be mixed, as what he has done for that has been fantastic. He may have lost my respect in sport but not for his charity work.  

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