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I was getting my eyes checked the other day and Dr. Pam Reichert posed a question that I had been waiting for someone to ask.
“So what do you think about Lance Armstrong?”
I’ve made no bones in the past that I thought by winning seven Tour de France titles that Armstrong did more for the sport of cycling in the United States than all those who pedaled before him.
Do I feel “letdown,” “swindled,” “angered,” “disappointed,” (which are all words that I’ve seen used) now that Armstrong has come somewhat clean to using performance enhancing drugs during his run to the top of the cycling world?
Armstrong’s confession was really a mute point because he had been accused, tried and convicted by mainstream media outlets and cycling organizations all over the world for years.
We have been deluged for decades with sports idols that we as fans have raised up to the highest untouchable pillars. Up went Tiger Woods, Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, Pete Rose, O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson, Joe Paterno, and just as dramatically we watched them all fall in disgrace.
Many have cried foul for being led astray by these idols, but in fact our sports-crazed society is partly to blame for putting them there in the first place.
I was a little surprised that Armstrong tried to maintain his innocence for so long, maybe he thought it might all blow away in the wind once he walked away from the competition side of the sport to focus on triathlons.
But the story didn’t go away.
As of late Wednesday, it was reported that Armstrong will work with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to try and help clean up the sport of cycling. What Armstrong will bring to the table when the accused comes face-to-face with his longtime accuser – that remains to be seen.
No doubt this will be a drama played out to the extremes in the national media, since Oprah got the leg up with her one-on-one interview with Armstrong.
What is lost in all of this has been what Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation really stands for – which is helping to try and stamp out cancer.
I’ve given to the Livestrong Foundation, and I do wear a yellow wristband, but my reason was not for what Armstrong did on a bike.
I wear a Livestrong outfit when I run 5K races because I support the message that the yellow brings – hope. Armstrong beat cancer and I’ve yet to be convinced that PEDs had anything to do with his recovery.
To say PEDs aided him in his personal cancer battle would mean that all his doctors would have been doped themselves and all the research gained from Armstrong’s recovery tainted.
I outlined several years ago why I wear a yellow wristband every day. When my sister, Diane was diagnosed with cancer, it was the Livestrong Foundation which reached out to her with information of support and hope for her cancer when other national organizations seemed to overlook her as simply a lost statistic.
Diane wore a yellow wristband until her death and so did my father until he passed away of cancer six months later. It was their little reminder each day of hope and that they were not alone in this fight.
Hate Armstrong all you want, that’s your choice, but remember, there are millions of people battling cancer each and every day that have gained strength from the fact Armstrong beat cancer. And he didn’t do it riding a bike, he did it riding on a message of hope.