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Lance Armstrong : From Hero to Zero

Lance Armstrong, Yellow Jersey. Fitness FanLance Armstrong : Cancer surviver, professional cyclist, seven time consecutive Tour de France Winner, sporting icon, charity fundraiser, father of five and serial lier. Okay, so he is no longer a seven times Tour de France winner or sporting icon, but he is still a cancer surviver.

Lance Armstrong was more than just a name you hear, he was my childhood hero. A man, who when he got on his bike, was able to perform so gracefully and effortlessly. Maybe it was because I was a child, that he seemed so much grater than any other sporting icon today.  Everything he did, inspired me. I had his first book “Its not about the Bike” and the second one, “Every Second Counts” along with all the other Tour de France memrobila. Pictures and quotes of this human machine. Him standing on countless podiums after each stage in the Tour, or gripping images of him cycling up serpentine roads, on almost vertical gradient mountains in his iconic yellow jersey. It wasn’t only me, my best friend had a large Lance poster in their bedrooms, draped in the US Flag.

17 years ago Lance Armstrong was fighting for his life and the horrible disease of cancer, he has now admitted to all the accusations that his sporting success was built on lies, betrayal and misuse of practice. It seems this fight with the International Cycling Union (UCI) has finally come to an end, as he admits that his cycling success was ‘One BIG lie”.

In the aftermath of the USADA (U.S Anti Doping Agency) report, the American opted not to contest any allegations. He had always strongly denied doping, but that all changed within seconds of his first appearance on Winfrey’s show. In a two hour private interview with TV host Oprah Winfrey with almost 5 million live viewers, his eyes filled with tears, when he opened up about how the misuse of banned substances has had on his family, satisfying those viewers who yearned to see the granite facade crack. Oprah, had studied all the evidence against Lance and all the other professional sporting bodies like it was her final exam at university with months of preparation. Despite asking over 200 questions,  some were left unanswered. But, being the great host that she is, she demanded yes and no answers at the beginning of the interview.

Oprah Winfrey: Did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?

Lance Armstrong: “Yes.”

Was one of those banned substances EPO?

“Yes.”

Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?

“Yes.”

Did you ever use any other banned substances such as testosterone, cortisone or Human Growth Hormone?

“Yes.”

In all seven of your Tour de France victories, did you ever take banned substances or blood dope?

“Yes.”

Oprah and Lance | TV Interview - Fitness FanWhen asked about the millions of supporters who had believed his years of denials about using performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids and EPO. His response, “I’d say I understand your anger, your sense of betrayal. You supported me forever through all of this … and I lied to you. And I’m sorry. I will spend – and I’m committed to spending – as long as I have to to make amends.” He confesses that “most humbling moment” was being asked to step aside by cancer charity Livestrong which he founded for fellow cancer patients and survivors and their family and friends. And how emotional it was for him, to tell his son that he doesn’t need to defend his dad anymore.

Critics say the Winfrey failed to demand sufficient detail and expressed scepticism over Armstrong’s continued denials about allegedly paying the (UCI) and other Swiss laboratories to bury positive dope tests that he produced during his competition days. Others, still doubt his claim to have competed cleanly during a 2009-10 comeback. When asked about, his infamous tweet, which had him stretched on the sofa amid his framed Tour de France yellow jerseys, just after being banned. He states it was an act of defiance. “And you know what’s scary I actually thought it was a good idea at the time.”

The evidence unfolds, his family left devastated. his charity, which has been described as his sixth child, he is no longer the Chairman of. The one and only person that has been there from day one for him, his mother, a single parent who raised and supported through the cancer battles, his divorce and doping allegations is left heart broken. But what about his team of cyclists, the eight other riders who poured their sweat and tears so their team mate could be crowned year after year Tour de France champion? To be honest, my only speculation that Lance Armstrong did dope, was when George Hincapie confessed about the doping the Lance Armstrong team underwent during the tour days, for those not familiar who Hincapie is, he was Armstrong’s right hand man in most of the tours, helping Lance set his tempo and achieve victories on the gruelling mountain stages. Many cyclists are worried that the sport has been tarred with doping that was so rife in the nineties, but many say that modern cycling is not the same as it was then. Let’s hope it has, for the sake of the sport.

So Lance Armstrong, a man who against all odds, gave children like me the hope that you really can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. However, its now clear that it is all false.  Some say, he deserves the Death Penalty, I think thats a bit harsh. Lots of sportsmen and women have manipulated the rules of sport to be crowned a winner. What still remains a mystery, are his sponsors and their involvement to help him achieve this false success. Did Nike want to create a modern day hero, like many rumour? If that is the case then why are they not under investigation also? How many people knew about this “sophisticated doping?” But what can not be denied, is ALL his hard work and effort that Lance and Livestrong have done to fight the awful disease of cancer. The rescue effort Livestrong went to during Hurricane Katrina and Sandy for cancer patients is simply humbling. I know many people will have a bitter taste in their mouths when they hear the name “Lance Armstrong” but his charitable and efforts is researching cancer can never be bad mouthed. So after all this, I wonder, if the Armstrong’s poster is still hanging on my best friends wall.