Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Lance Armstrong - A Hero

Lance Armstrong, World Champion, 7 time Tour de France Winner and Cancer survivor.  To many he is iconic not just to the sport of cycling but to those who have ever suffered or been effected by cancer.

His book 'It's not about the bike' is a detailed true story of his fight and survival against a cancer that brought him close to death and his return to the forefront of cycling's premium race the Tour de France from 1999 onwards.  His seven wins from 1999 to 2005  were often magnificent his domination of a the tour a splendour to watch and to many of his fans he is a hero.  But with great success also comes equal suspicion, his victories tainted with accusation of illegal doping and blood transfusions.  It seems that no one is allowed to be this good without being suspected of being a cheat.

But to this day and despite over 500 urine and blood tests taken during, before, after and at anytime out of competition, Armstrong has never been caught.  He is by all accounts clean despite the rumours.  He has fought many court battles against those that would try to taint his name.  He has quite rightly defended all that he has strived to obtain.  Some would say that he is aggressive and quick to put people in line but this is his right in stopping rumours and lies formed by jealous or spiteful ex employees.

To many his success in cycling is only a small part of his fan base.  He is the founder of Livestrong a charity which to date has raised over 500 million dollars to help with research, awareness and helping those deal with cancer.  As an unlikely survivor he has often given hope to those who face the fight, a hero in the fight against the evil of cancer.

Yet here we are in 2012 witness to the proclaimed stripping of all he stood for.  His tour titles stricken from the record books.  The American Anti doping organisation (USADA) have attempted  to take Armstrong to court to investigate his use of doping within the sport and his involvement of trafficking and being part of an organised doping ring.  The case led by Travis Tygart has by many people been seen as nothing short of a witch hunt.  Despite all his previous tests and no evidence found of doping from races 13 years ago USADA have continued to try and bring Armstrong to justice.  A few days ago Armstrong finally conceded that he would no longer fight the case.  This isn't an admission of defeat as so many would claim but more a dispirited response after years of trying to fight to clear his name.

American Armstrong said in a statement that he is "finished with this nonsense" and insisted he is innocent but did not want to spend any further effort clearing his name.
He said: "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough'. For me, that time is now.
"I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999."

So what if his titles are stripped, what then?  In a sport that has been rife with doping and blood transfusion passing the jersey onto the likes of Jan Ulrich who failed drugs tests and later confessed guilt.  The whole thing smites as pointless.  Stripping him of his titles is a at best not going to achieve anything. Even if he did dope he would have been racing against others who were also doing the same and so levelling an even playing field.

 He will always be seen by millions as the winner of those tours and taking those from him will fail to clear up doping within cycling.  This has brought a lot of questions on USDA as to this charade.  It is felt that they are doing this to justify their own existence, trying to land a big fish and not following up on already outstanding cases or other sports that suffer the same doping problems.  It would also seem that they no longer want to loose face in this very public debacle.

 Armstrong claims the USADA investigation "has not been about learning the truth or cleaning up cycling, but about punishing me at all costs".

"Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart's unconstitutional witch hunt," he said.

He accused USADA of having "broken the law" and "played the role of a bully" and insisted he always "played by the rules" put in place by anti-doping agencies and cycling's world governing body the UCI.

He added in a statement on his personal website: "The idea that athletes can be convicted today without positive A and B samples, under the same rules and procedures that apply to athletes with positive tests, perverts the system and creates a process where any begrudged ex-team-mate can open a USADA case out of spite or for personal gain or a cheating cyclist can cut a sweetheart deal for themselves.

"It's an unfair approach, applied selectively, in opposition to all the rules. It's just not right."

The supposed evidence that they have brought forward includes up to ten of his team mates but their motives are under question.  Some believe that they may have been bribed with money or pardons for there own misgivings in drug usage.

But drugs aside and even if he is found to be guilty in someway the Armstrong fan base remains strong and this is perhaps most evident in the extra donations that have been made to Livestrong.  People don't often care much about cycling and his success but more what he has brought to those affected by cancer.  Before he is condemned he should be remembered for his charity work which he intends to continue supporting.

Lance Armstrong is a Hero in cycling with or without his titles, drugged or no he beat the best in the sport who were doping.  His work for cancer has been inspirational and an example to many.

Please Also See - Lance Armstrong A Bully And A Cheat



Jez, well said. Thank you for posting a fair an unbiased responce to all this hoopla.He'll always be a 7 time Tour De France winner in my eyes.

A couple of interesting posts - good food for thought. I guess in my heart I didn't want the claims to be true and as more gets reported each day my disappointment is growing.

I have just ordered Tyler Hamilton's book "The secret Race..." - someone I admired for winning his first TdF Stage with a broken collar bone. It took me six weeks before I rode my bike after having mine broken (a dozy driver). From what I have read in the reviews of the book so far it has done nothing to dispel my disappointment

My own view is that pretty much most of the time the "ends don't justify the means".

It was quite a hard post to write to be honest with you both. I used to love watching him race and still watch the old races with admiration. But reading the evidence stacked up against him just makes me a more disapointed fan. It seems easier to find evidence to condem the man than find evidence to defend him.

I'm ordering the book through my Library as I usually like reading those books. I enjoyed David Millars and Paul Kimmages. Funny you mention the broken collar bone thing but that was I first learnt the name Tyler Hamilton, I also had the privilage of watching him race but I had cast him aside when I found out he had taken drugs. Maybe I'm ready to forgive and see what he has to say.

Great post Jez. I take a similar viewpoint to you. For me, Lance was one of the reasons that I got into cycling, reading his books and watching him race was an inspiration.

If it turns out that he was a cheat, that doesn't change the reason I am individually thankful to him. Just the same as cancer survivors and battlers are thankful to him for supporting their cause and giving them hope.

People will say anything if you give them enough money, or bribe them enough. Tyler Hamilton's career was finished because of his doping, inevitably his bitterness about this and his resentment could have been harnessed by USADA and others to create his case. Just as it could have been done by Floyd Landis. That's the hope that I retain anyway.

Thanks Tim. Its interesting hearing from people on this case. This particular post was compiled using various arguments that i'd read on forums or from articles. It isn't a true reflection of what I feel but felt a fair reflection of the arguments for the Armstrong fans. There are I feel in this some valid points, however after much reading a sifting through the current available evidence writing a post to condem him (as written in my other post)was much easier.

Brilliant, both of them Jez. I must say, I do tend to side with folks who think that Lance has used his genuinely good charity work as a shield--and I think it cheapens both the man, and the organization. Everyone has lost someone dear (or knows someone who has) to this terrible disease--it shouldn't be used to deflect fair (or even unfair) criticism of Lance the cyclist. Thanks as always for your great and provocative blog!

The point about no positive test results. And now drawing a poor comparison to make a point.

If you have ten witnesses to murder, but no blood on the accused, you will still get a conviction.

It's curious that the anti doping systems did not catch him, but eye witnesses have... So what is going on with the doping testing guys? Do their systems not work, are they in on it, why have they failed for so consistently? If a system is easy to cheat, you will get cheaters. If I knew the tax man could not catch me, I would pay less tax (I know he is not to be messed with so I keep clean accounts)

Thanks for leaving a comment on here! The no positive test argument has or was doing the rounds a great deal when I wrote this. This pro sided argument on Lance was taken much more from arguments put forward on forums rather than my own personal feelings. I know that WADA for instance can convict an athlete from eye witness as well as test results. The test is only a small part of finding guilt.

My post on him being being a cheat and bully rings as true when I wrote it as it does now. The evidence was always there in front of us just to often it was glossed over.

Unstoppable...both Lance and the read....
Unbelievable..yet true...I have seen this disease very closely and could understand what Lance might have been through....

Out of this world....Lance, fights one of the most dreaded disease and makes a come back to win the Tour de France...world's most grueling cycling endurance event....

The emotional changes, the strength that he gathers, the unfathomable quest that he endured with cancer, with his inner self....his Childhood, his Mother his family and friends....

A Must Read....

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