Railroading a road warrior
USADA misses the bigger picture of Lance Armstrong
Todd Colin Vaughan
Even the greatest can fall from grace.
In the particular case of Lance Armstrong, who was metaphorically snagged by the gills and dragged into a molten lava pit, grace failed him.
The seven-time Tour de France champion was stripped of all his accolades and given a lifetime ban from competition on Aug. 24 by the United States Anti-Doping Agency after testing positive for illegal performance enhancing drugs.
Following the punishment, Armstrong made a statement accusing the USADA of being part of an “outlandish witch-hunt” against him, and he said he would not file a complaint in order to protect his family from the strain the allegations have already caused them.
Armstrong’s fate comes at a time when leading anti-doping researcher Michael Ashenden told Australian newspaper The Herald Sun that “cycling is still dirtier than ever and will continue to be unless drastic changes are introduced.”
In light of this, it is my belief that Lance Armstrong is the big name that is taking the fall for a sport full of supposed cheaters.
But, is doping in a sport full of dopers actual cheating? Are we nailing Armstrong to the cross because he’s the problem or because Nike sponsors him?
As a society, we praise athletes that seem to be normal, charitable human beings and who rise above equal competition. Lance Armstrong is a family man whose cancer organization Livestrong has raised over $470 million dollars. He also won seven Tour de France titles in a row against competition that was full of other alleged cheaters.
Does cheating in a sport full of cheaters make Armstrong’s accomplishments, especially his charitable work, any less important? Nope, it sure doesn’t.
He’s a great athlete, and he’s a great athelete who transcends sport with his efforts to end human suffering by applying his fame to something that matters.
If he actually cheated, oh well. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemons, Sammy Sosa and countless other steroid-era Major League Baseball players cheated and didn’t have to worry about losing their MLB records. On top of that, their charitable work doesn’t come close to Armstrong.
The USADA railroaded a good man that may or may not have taken performance-enhancing drugs which are rampant everywhere in his sport.
They tried to publicly shame a man who wants to cure cancer, enjoys spending time with his family and likes biking.
If someone wanted to make me feel bad for those things, I wouldn’t think too long on it.