Opinion: Lance Armstrong – a tarnished legacy?

In Montreal on Wednesday, Lance Armstrong began his speech to the World Cancer Congress by saying he was a cancer survivor, a father of five and a seven-time Tour de France champion.

But only days ago, Armstrong said he would no longer fight the charges the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency were levying against him.  He released a statement saying that “enough is enough” and that the entire USADA investigation was about punishing him “at all costs.”

With Armstrong laying down his sword and surrendering unconditionally, USADA took away every title Armstrong had earned since 1998, including his seven Tour de France victories and his 2000 Olympic bronze medal.

USADA claims to have samples that belong to Armstrong from 2009 and 2010 that are “fully consistent” with doping, according to ESPN.  USADA also claims to have teammates of Armstrong’s willing to testify against him.

But in his official press release dated Aug. 23, Armstrong refutes these claims and says the only evidence there is, are the “hundreds of controls” he has passed with “flying colors.”

USADA claims that Armstrong’s refusal to fight their latest allegations is an admission of guilt.  Armstrong remains steadfast in his denial and says he just no longer wishes to fight a process that he calls, “one-sided and unfair.”

Right now, the only proof of wrong-doing is the word of USADA.  They claim to have samples and evidence and witnesses, but could they be wrong?  It does seem odd for them to chase after Armstrong so strongly if they did not have solid evidence, but it is not implausible.   Armstrong has not gone to trial and has not been found guilty, but he has nonetheless suffered through these allegations and had his legacy tarnished.

Armstrong for so long represented everything you would look for in a hero.  He overcame life-threatening cancer, was the top athlete in his sport and set up a foundation to help others who might be affected by cancer.  Now, when people hear his name, words like “doping” and “steroids” will be thrown around, instead of the amazing accomplishments he achieved.

And that’s not fair to Armstrong.   Maybe it is because I still hold onto that hope that he could have done all of this on his own through hard work and determination, but when I think of Lance Armstrong, I will think of him the same way he does—as a cancer survivor, a father of five and seven-time Tour de France champion. Until it can be proved otherwise, that is the man I’ll see.