The Armstrong Paradox

According to USADA, Lance Armstrong cheated and lied. He also inspired millions. Does losing his Tour de France titles really mean anything?

Lance Armstrong is a rare athlete. He is one of those who is able to reach the barrier of human physical ability and smash through it. He is one of those whose dominance demands attention. His legend draws the attention of everyone, as we wait to see what he will accomplish next. It’s a class that few athletes will ever be a part of, and some of the few who currently share this stratosphere with him are Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and LeBron James. In particular, Armstrong’s discipline (cycling), like track and swimming, is unique from skill sports like basketball, because it involves the purest of human physical feats. Maybe he is incapable of throwing a football or shooting a basketball, but he is able to bike 2,000 miles over mountains in 23 days, thanks to an aerobic capacity about twice the amount of a regular person.

He is an athletic hero.

He also is a cancer survivor who once faced a 60% possibility of death. He beat those odds and then beat the Tour de France competition seven times in a row. Besides these cycling accomplishments, he helped lead the fight against cancer, raising hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research.

He isn’t just an athletic champion; he’s an actual modern hero. He didn’t start a nation, lead armies, stage a coup, or even cure the disease that afflicted him. But what he has meant to so many millions of people is heroic in its own right.

He’s also a cheater and a liar.

He achieved his greatness because he illegally gave himself an unfair advantage by taking performance-enhancing drugs. And then he lied about it. To this day, although he will no longer fight the charges, he proclaims his innocence. I don’t know how I came up with this, but just think if you found out that Bruce Wayne was actually some sort of X-Man or an alien, and that’s why he could SPOILER defeat The League of Shadows (twice) and the Joker, save Gotham, capture droves of criminals, drive all sorts of crazy vehicles, be friends with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, and win dates with Marion Cotillard and Anne Hathaway. It would kind of ruin it right? Batman is cool because he’s just a normal millionaire. END OF SPOILER

But, hang on a minute, loads of guys use steroids in cycling. It’s much worse than even baseball. The champion of 2006, Floyd Landis, lost his title for using PEDs. So is it really that big a deal? In a way, he cheated to beat other cheaters, so it was a level playing field. Some would use this defense to claim Barry Bonds is the best baseball player of all-time.

But wait, Barry Bonds is a bad guy, right? And so are all of the other legends who cheated and lied about it. At least, that’s what seems to be the majority opinion. But Armstrong hasn’t faced that moniker yet. People aren’t destroying their Livestrong bracelets. A friend of mine has a signed Lance Armstrong jersey on his wall, and I don’t think that is coming down anytime soon. Why?

Throughout history, our heroes have often been flawed human beings. Martin Luther and I do not agree on everything from a theological standpoint (and I don’t think he was the nicest guy), but he is one of history’s most important people to me because of what he did to help create the Protestant church. A man named after him, M. L. King, Jr., did incredible work for the advancement of Black Americans, but his sexual morality was very troubled. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a mess of a person, but he may be history’s greatest musician. The list goes on, in all facets of life. However, despite these personal flaws, Martin Luther is still one of the most important people in the Christian religion, Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the greatest Americans (black or white) to ever live, and Mozart, like I said, is still a musical genius.

Lance Armstrong, despite cheating and lying, is still a hero. He still beat cancer. He still won seven straight Tour de France titles, and he still raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research. Maybe the news of him losing his titles hasn’t made the splash I would have expected because people are tired of steroid stories (and he was generally believed to be guilty) but I think it is more than that. I think Armstrong transcended the actual sport like few athletes have ever done. Barry Bonds didn’t inspire millions of people in their fight against a deadly disease: Lance did.

Please keep in mind that I am writing this article assuming that the ruling by USADA is true. If not, I’m sorry for calling Lance Armstrong a cheater and a liar. Like, comment, subscribe/follow, post to Facebook and Twitter, email at pcd5834@gmail.com. Thank you for reading!

The SneakyGoodSportsGuy

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7 thoughts on “The Armstrong Paradox

  1. Dear USADA,

    Congratulations……….All of you people there at the USADA have proved with your witch hunt of Lance Armstrong that you ALL are on the same playing field of some of the most despicable people on Earth……..right up there with the freaks at the Topeka, KS Westboro Church that picket soldiers funerals…..

    You people with your “Holier than Thou” attitude do NOTHING to inspire or lift people up as Lance Armstrong does…….you only exist to tear people down, which not only makes you all the worst kind of people, but makes you complete losers……and losers always hate people better than themselves…..that’s why they are losers and will always be losers……and you people are major LOSERS…….

    Lance Armstrong passed ALL the tests (nearly 500 of them in his career and many that were random) and still you persisted because you could not stand the fact that he was just a better athlete that all the rest……..I would expect that you will soon be going after Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps and most likely will be opening cases against Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, and Michael Jordan so you losers can feel like you have anything to do worth while…………

    There is NOT a Rath or Punishment severe enough to impose on all of you there at the USADA that you ALL deserve more than anyone I can think of for what you have done to Lance Armstrong, His Family, and to the millions of people around the world that his story and achievements have inspired and given strength to overcome against all odds……..You will all get yours in this life or the next……

    Most discusted,

    Blake Norris
    Las Vegas, NV

    • Mr. Norris:
      I respect your opinion, but I ask that you don’t use such hateful language on my blog. I won’t remove the comment because you’re entitled to say you think USADA is wrong. Thank you for sharing your honest opinion, but please be less hateful. Thanks!

      • Thank you for your reply……but I really do not think I was being hateful towards the USADA…….this was a witch hunt plain and simple……….what ever happened to Innocent until proven guilty………???…..The USADA has made Lance guilty until proven innocent.……Lance has been fighting (and Winning) these charges since 1999 (for 13 years)……..and last week he threw in the towel simply because he finaliy realized that you simply cannot fight STUPID………

      • I question there so called reason for suspicion……I think it is something else…….something you see in Politics a lot these days here in the United States especially with the Democrats……..these progressive Ideologues cannot stand anyone or anything that is exceptional……they feel all must be equal and the same or it is unfair somehow…….they suppress individualism and destroy innovation and exceptionalism……..They Themselves at the USADA are simply unexceptional and they cannot stand anyone or anything better than they are, which again is what makes them losers and feel a need to tear people down to their level……like I stated in my original post…….what was the point?…….what good became of any thing of their which hunt?…..Lance was already retired…….sure there must be fair competition in the sport and no one should be doping……..so they should have concentrated their efforts on the sport and the people in the sport as it is TODAY……and the people that have failed the testing (which Lance NEVER did)…….I fully expect for this sad excuse of a so called governing body that is the USADA to start looking at people like Michael Phelps, Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Wilt Chamberlin, Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, etc., etc., and anyone that has ever been great and exceptional in their sport…….you just watch…..thats what these progressive tax payer funded Ideologue agencies and so called governing bodies do…….they go out of there way to search and find and concoct wrong doings that simply are not there because they themselves are unexceptional and to tear people down to their unexceptional level makes them feel better about themselves…….

  2. Peter,
    It is my understanding that Lance Armstrong has NEVER tested positive for doping. I think that you are calling the wrong person a liar and cheat…..it should be Travis Tygart.

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