Renowned ex-cyclist Lance Armstrong is expectedto appear on the Oprah Winfrey Network this week toadmit his use of bannedperformance-enhancing drugs before his memorable seven Tour de France victories.
But as the world reacts to Armstrongs confession, the question remains as to how the world should view the man once considered the most influential athlete in the world and the legacy he leaves behind which includes the Livestrong Foundation, which has raised more than $470 million to fight cancer.
There is no denying the despicable reality of Armstrongs actions, even more so his emphatic dedication to lying about them. Armstrong cheated and lied about doing it under oath during a court depositionin 2005 and in the media multiple times after that. Armstrong will have to face many people regarding his actions the World Anti-Doping Agency, all of his past sponsors, all of his past team mates all of the people who claimed that he was doping before and all of his fans.
But nobody understands the seriousness of his actions more than Armstrong himself.
More than anything that Armstrong has accomplished, recovering from his reputation will turn out to be the second most trying fete he will ever face.
Regardless of the implicationsthat doping will bring, Armstrongs influence extends far beyond his accomplishments as an athlete. When he was 25, hewas diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer that spread to his lungs and brain.
Armstrong battled through cancer, got back on his bike and won the Tour de France seven times in a row. It made for an inspirational story and Armstrong lived the life of a celebrity and hero for years after that, starting Livestrong Foundation in 1997. Armstrong reportedly apologized to Livestrong before taping the interview.
He was one of the few bicyclists who were a household name and an inspiration to those affected by cancer.
His story forces the public to question the standards that we place on athletes and the pedestal we put them on just to watch as they notoriously fall.
While there is no sense or humility in rationalizing Armstrongs actions, there is humility in allowing Armstrong and his foundation the chance at a normal and vitriol-free life as long as he tells the truth.
Armstrong, like the majority ofpeople, was prone to the
inevitable cadence of feats and failures that define the human
condition. Despite how much he may have disappointed those
who looked up to him, it wouldbe unwise for us to overlookhis contributions outside ofprofessional cycling and his
storied battle against cancer.