August 25, 2012

When it's NOT about the bike... but about the man who's on it...

Livestrong.



I've always liked the picture that smooshed word creates in my mind. Have you heard of the man this word is associated with? Just about everyone in the developed world does. Especially today.






American Lance Armstrong is one of the best-known cyclists on the planet. He's the winner of seven - count them - SEVEN Tour de France titles. He's beaten testicular cancer. He's an author, a father, a husband and also the founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, an impressive organisation that supports people affected by cancer. Since it started, the Foundation has raised over $500 million US dollars toward cancer research. By anyone's standards, his bio makes for fairly awesome reading.



I've always admired Lance for his incredible athleticism. Cycling is a particularly tough sport, physically as well as mentally. It is, I'd imagine, quite a lonely one too. Hour upon hour of training, just you and the bike. No teammate alongside to share the load. Just you and the road and your mind, fighting a continuous battle to keep those legs pumping. Talk about hardcore.



The Tour de France is the pinnacle of the cycling world and its reputation as the world's toughest road race is well deserved. This literally sorts the players from the pretenders, it's a virtual torture chamber of 'mind over matter' where one hint of weakness will see the pack chew up and spit you to the side of the road without the slightest hesitation. That's why winning one of these is so special and why seven-time trophy holder Lance Armstrong is considered a legend within the cycling world.






But everyone has their limit, it appears. In a move that has surprised many - including me - Lance Armstrong has given up the fight to clear his name regarding allegations of rampant drug use during his career. He released a statement on his website yesterday (you can read it here) saying 'There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say "enough is enough".' He goes on to say that 'the toll this has taken on my family, the work I have done for our Foundation, and on me leads me to where I am today - finished with this nonsense.'






In response, the US Anti Doping Agency have stripped him of his seven Tour titles and banned Lance from the sport for life. Whether or not they have the authority to do so remains to be seen, but it's a huge blow never the less. What will become of his legacy? Because he has chosen to draw a metaphorical line in the sand and walk away, it will forever be tainted by questions over his innocence. While the decision to walk isn't an admission of guilt, there will be plenty who feel that it is.



I don't have the answers to this. But I do have an opinion. We need to see complete public disclosure by the US Anti Doping Agency of all evidence regarding Armstrong's alleged guilt. As a fan, I need to see it, I don't want to hear any more speculating or posturing. Especially now that Lance himself has refused to front up and refute any and all allegations. Without disclosure from the USADA, all that remains is conjecture and rumour and I reckon we've had enough of that over the past decade.



Lance's actions of the last 24 hours might suggest that he's had enough of it too.




So what do YOU think? Is Lance a cheat? Should he have walked away or kept on fighting to clear his name? 

All images from http://www.lancearmstrong.com



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