Lance Armstrong has been famous for quiet some time now, but in the past few weeks he has become one of the most infamous people on the planet. On the face of it there have been a few stages on his journey to Global infamy which could be labelled as follows ;
The good :
Leaving aside the way in which he achieved domination in the Worlds greatest bike race over a seven record breaking year period, his tour victories were inspirational for many people. The people who drew most inspiration from his recovery from Cancer and journey to sporting success were his fellow Cancer sufferers. I personally saw two people in a Cancer ward both reading his book ‘It’s not about the bike’. For patients and their families his story gave hope where it was hard to find. For the best part of a decade he was the shining light of inspiration when patients searched for a way to fight the disease.
Whilst a positive attitude cannot cure Cancer what it can do is improve the quality of your life during cancer treatment and beyond. You may be more likely to stay active, maintain ties to family and friends, and continue social activities. In turn, this may enhance your feeling of well-being and help you find the strength to deal with your cancer. Lance Armstrongs’ story helped to give that positive attitude and did help enhance the lives of thousands of very sick people.
Cycling fans throughout the globe enjoyed watching his dominant style and at the time he brought cycling from the back page of newspapers to the front cover. He also brought a whole new audience to the sport. All of this at the time was good.
The Bad :
He lied and cheated his way to the top of the cycling World. As the truth has unfolded he has taken a percentage of hope away from current Cancer patients and their families. He has also affected the final memories of some whose loved ones have lost the battle.
He bullied and bad mouthed anyone who crossed him. He put other riders in a corner where drug taking was the only option. Whilst he is not the first or last cyclist, or sportsperson for that matter to cheat and take performance enhancing drugs, he did it like a stereotypical Texan, bigger and better than anyone else.
His exposure, along with many others, has led to perception within the general public that all cyclists take drugs and that it is an unhealthy environment for any young athlete. This is a huge disservice to a beautiful sport that can have a massive array of benefits to offer any person who is lucky enough to plonk their ass on a saddle.
The ugly :
The worldwide media today is carrying reports that a 9 meter effigy of Lance Armstrong is to be burned in a bonfire in Edenbridge in Kent with a badge around its’ neck saying ‘Jim fixed it for me’ in reference to the late television presenter Jimmy Saville. Someone who has been accused of widespread child abuse. This is a step too far. There is a gulf of difference in Armstrong’s deeds and those of Saville and to link the two distracts from the important issues that need to be addressed in sport.
With such a vitriolic attitude towards Armstrong many are focussing on their animosity towards one man rather than putting their thoughts and efforts towards the creation of a clean environment where any talented cyclist or athlete can honestly expect to achieve the success that they are naturally capable of.
The pure : When the sensationalism surrounding Armstrong passes organisations like Bikepure look set to be at the forefront in the creation of a new level of fairness within cycling by highlighting the efforts of riders who have committed to ‘Bike pure’ .There is much to be gained by encouraging athletes to publicly commit to being ‘clean’ and honest rather than just trying to catch the cheats with anti-doping tests. The tests did not catch Armstrong and during his era there were more cheats than honest riders but the tipping point may have now been reached where honesty and integrity are traits the new generation of cyclists want to be role models for.