By now we’ve all heard about Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah and his sort-of admission about using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). The question is how do you feel about it? Does it taint your view of Armstrong? Does it taint all of the good that Livestrong did? It took me a while to get to my answers for those questions, but I think I have finally made it.
It all starts with cheating. My definition of cheating is breaking the rules to gain an advantage for yourself, your group, or your team. PEDs are by that definition cheating and I do not condone their use in sports. However, I know that they do exist in almost all areas of sport. I also know it is not my job to clean them up. As a fan, it is my task to watch the games, enjoy them, and evaluate them in the way I see fit when they are over.
When Armstrong was winning those seven Tour De Frances in a row, we all watched the highlights. We all enjoyed it. We all evaluated him to be the best cyclist on the planet. Now we know he was doping, but that doesn’t change my opinion of his feats.
According to the definition above, to be cheating an advantage must be gained. Cycling is probably the dirtiest sport on the planet where PEDs are concerned; therefore, one might argue that Armstrong only used them to “keep up with the Joneses.” He didn’t gain any advantage; he kept an advantage from being gained by others. Essentially, the playing field was level and he dominated the field. Why couldn’t he have won those races on a level, clean field? I think he could’ve and that’s why the fact that he was doping doesn’t diminish his accomplishments in my mind. Armstrong as a person though, that is a different story.
Early in his career, Armstrong was like any other new celebrity. We didn’t know the real person. Everyone thought he was great. He beat cancer and won some races. He was awesome.
After he gained fame, we started to see the person behind the image. The person who left his wife and the mother of his children for a celebrity. The person who would go out of his way to crush anyone who would question him or his athletic feats. For these reasons, his personal character and my thoughts about him have always been tainted. Anyone who could do that to their spouse is not a great person in my book. And ruining peoples’ lives to defend your Tour wins and clean image knowing all of the while you’re lying is not exactly a great character trait either. Steroids or not, I never liked the guy. I will not lump Livestrong in with him though.
Sure, Livestrong used Armstrong’s ill-gotten reputation to boost their profile, but are we really going to trash them for it? Are we really going to be mad at them for using a celebrity with a huge profile to further their message of living better and to help them raise funds for cancer research? So they picked the wrong guy. It happens. Everyone has made a bad choice here and there, but they have done some good. Give them credit for that. Don’t let whatever you think about Armstrong cover up their efforts. That wouldn’t be fair.
What would be fair is for me to allow you to respond to this. Well, feel free. Let me know what you think. Ianfromthefox@foxrocks.com is where you can find me.