Livestrong. That’s a strong statement that has rung a very bold and profound bell over the years. It came with a once thought as solid backbone from the cycling legend Lance Armstrong, whose legacy is all but being crushed and beaten into rubble by the towering U.S. Anti-Doping Agency testimonies of once close friends and athletic team mates.
But Armstrong’s situation is different. If you look at the history of cycling, many cyclists have been found guilty and tested positive for doping. Some try and find methods that can give them an edge over competition and pass a drug test given by the USADA, but eventually they get caught one way or another.
Through the testimonies of the disgraced dopers, it soon became evident that everyone was on something. Erythropoietin, blood doping, stimulants and a list of other drugs are openly banned from the sport of cycling. These athletes are well aware of the consequences of being caught doping. Not only can they lose their careers, but they face national shame.
One of Armstrong’s former teammates, Tyler Hamilton, admitted to seeing Armstrong dope and acquiring banned stimulants and EPO from him. During an interview with “Sixty Minutes,” Hamilton said, “I saw [EPO] in his refrigerator…I saw him inject it more than one time like we all did, like I did many, many times.”
This is just one of the testimonies that 11 former teammates produced. The USADA even produced 1000 pages of documentation that had evidence that Lance Armstrong performed doping.
Shortly after the USADA submitted a 200-page report on illegal drug use that Armstrong participated strongly in, the Union Cyclist Internationale stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. With that came the avalanche of sponsors and endorsements punching out like a fighter pilot ejecting out an aircraft in flames. Nike, Oakley, Trek Bikes, RadioShack, Giro and Honey Stinger and even 24-Hour Fitness are stripping Armstrong’s name off their products.
Let’s not forget that Armstrong has helped thousands, if not millions, through charitable efforts and contributions though his establishment of his company, Livestrong. This isn’t a criminal we are talking about. But with all the razor-sharp allegations and multiple testimonies found against him you have to wonder, where is Armstrong’s credit? If he doped, would you forget that he could be the greatest fraud and cheat in cycling history? That he built every victory he gained with deceit and false advantages?
His sponsors can’t seem to deal with that thought. Even more so, neither can those that so proudly endorsed and contributed to Armstrong’s cause and athletic leap into space, which is now being reduced to rubble in the desert. The worst of it has yet to come. The statistics of what is to come financially for Armstrong is brutal in 2013.
A sea of issues and closed cases have reopened since the USADA and UCI have officially dethroned Armstrong. With a net worth of $125 million, Armstrong could be dropping $30 million in endorsements on top of the prize money he has to pay back in the very near future.
Can it really be true that in an era where nearly every cyclist was doping that the great Armstrong was clean? Was he such an illustrious athlete that he could go on to win seven Tour de France titles against juiced cyclists?
Armstrong is the only one who knows what he did. His teammates couldn’t beat the truth; they couldn’t out-race the guilt from tracking them down and getting them to drop medals of merit and titles that they didn’t earn fairly. Armstrong might have been an epic athlete and hero for many, but if there’s one thing he can’t beat, it’s the truth. If he can’t preserve his honor and if he has been lying all these years, well then ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is one of the greatest athletic cheaters and frauds of this decade.