Lance Armstrong is a fighter. When testicular cancer came into his life, he fought past the 50 percent chance of survival prior to his surgery to go on and experience a full life. When demanding chemotherapy became a necessity to live, he pushed through to cycle when cycling shouldn’t have even been a possibility. When bike riding should have only been a hobby for his everyday life, he cycled to an all-time record seven Tour de France championships. When the federal government closed in to try and convict him of shocking charges, he shut down everything they threw his way.
Lance Armstrong is a fighter.
This relentless warrior has decided to refuse to fight. Yes, he might have written a fiery explanation for why he will not continue to defend his reputation and a cyclist’s career that has become the greatest ever, but don’t be fooled – Lance Armstrong quit.
By dropping his fight against the charges, Armstrong must face the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the official anti-doping organization that has the sole purpose of uncovering cheaters in sports. It is looking to take away all his Tour de France titles, banish him from cycling for life and remove the bronze medal he earned from the 2000 Olympics.
Even with everything beginning to spin out of control, Armstrong makes a valid case for why he is willing to no longer challenge USADA’s allegations that he took performance-enhancing drugs.
“I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999,” Armstrong wrote in his official release. “The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today — finished with this nonsense.”
I get it. For 12 long years, allegation after allegation has come onto his doorstep when he has attempted to win 21-day long bike races, raise millions of dollars to fight cancer – something that should never be corrupted no matter his lasting image – and be the best father and husband he can for his family, which is no simple task. While all of this has gone on, he and his family have had to deal with countless claims and charges against the legitimacy of his career. Nobody wants that.
But by giving in to the fight at hand, Armstrong is allowing the image he will leave behind in life to be a tainted one. No matter whether he is an innocent hero that has simply had enough or a guilty cheater that knows when he has been caught, people will remember him as the cyclist that might have cheated – which is enough to take away his credibility.
When Armstrong has faced conflicts in his life that seem to have no outcome other than being on the losing side, he persevered and never gave up. Lance Armstrong is a fighter. If he knew the truth, if he knew he was innocent, if he knew he could win this showdown, I strongly believe he would fight the case until he won. It seems delusional to imagine this proud man that has been known to crave crushing his biking opponents from the first day he began pedaling and proving every single one of his doubters wrong would just let his name become tarnished.
I might be wrong; I might be right. But that doesn’t change the fact that Armstrong admitted defeat, no matter whether he admitted to doping or not, which is something the public has never seen from this resilient man.
And just like that, this 4-time AP Male Athlete of the Year has joined an exclusive group from the past era that is easy to get into and almost impossible to get out of.
Barry Bonds. Bill Belichick. Joe Paterno.
These select men, for one reason or another, established themselves as possibly the best to participate in their respective profession but will never be able to fix what has become a shattered depiction in the public’s mind. Each of these men decided that being great wasn’t enough; they wanted to be the best. In order to be the best, they most listened to that little voice in their head and convinced themselves they would need to do something a little extra, even if it was deemed as cheating, in order to make it to the next level.
Lance Armstrong has decided he is okay with joining these men.
It is now as if nothing can be assumed as sacred anymore. The next time an athlete or coach stands out from the competition and his story seems too good to be true, how do we know that isn’t the case? How do we know that an illicit step has not been taken along the way to allow a substantial step to be achieved?
Just as is the case with Armstrong’s case, we may never know.
What we do know is that Lance Armstrong is no longer a fighter.
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