If you haven’t seen it in the headlines yet, you soon will: Lance Armstrong, the celebrated American cyclist, has been stripped of his record seven straight Tour de France titles. The ruling became official yesterday after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a mountainous, 164-page report last week with overwhelming evidence that Armstrong used illegal performance-enhancing drugs during his championship years.
Sports fans can recite this tale by heart: a star athlete is accused of using performance enhancing drugs, putting his or her many accomplishments into question and crushing the hearts of millions of fans in the process.
We’ve seen it time and time again. We’ve seen Marion Jones forfeit the five medals she proudly won for America in the 2004 Sydney Summer Olympics. We’ve seen the asterisk placed next to the 73 home runs Barry Bonds smashed in the 2001 baseball season. We’ve seen the unethical demise of Mark McGwire, Ben Johnson, Manny Ramirez and countless other athletes accused of steroids, human growth hormones or blood boosters.
For fans like myself, the legacies of Jones, Bonds and other doping athletes are scarred forever. They are nothing more than cheaters. They are disdainful symbols of how sport loses its purity and integrity. They are villains. They wronged us.
So, for Armstrong, we know what happens next in the common script, right?
In one respect, yes. On top of their decision to rescind his Tour titles, the International Cycling Union, or UCI, has banned him from cycling for life. Armstrong’s biggest sponsors, including Nike and Anheuser-Busch, dropped his contracts due to the allegations. And above all, fans around the world have rightfully scorned him as a liar, a fraud and an enabler of doping.
His cycling legacy is undoubtedly tarnished forever, as it should be.
But here’s why Armstrong’s story is different than any athlete who has come before him: The world is a better place because he doped.
Fifteen years ago, after surviving testicular cancer that had spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain, he began the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which is now known as LiveStrong.
The world is a better place because LiveStrong has raised nearly $500 million dollars to educate cancer patients and fund cancer research. It’s a better place because 2.3 million individuals with cancer have received individual counseling using LiveStrong’s resources. It’s a better place because the organization has lobbied relentlessly for cancer research
To read the whole story, visit here: http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2012/oct/23/transcending-the-bike/
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