The fall of a legend

Written by Julian Sykes

treehugger image of lance armstrong
Across the atlantic the story of Lance Armstrong has finally come to a head this week. In a 1,000 page report he has been accused of prolonged and systematic doping. A system according to United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) that allowed him to achieve a historic seven Tour De France wins, after recovering from cancer. For me this case in particular has affected me due to my belief in his story, and also his foundation LIVESTRONG. I was one of those that bought one of his yellow bands. I was amazed at how someone could come from near death to winning such a competition, not once but SEVEN times.

So how do I feel?
I find it quite hard to weigh up exactly how I feel what has happened. He is a remarkable athlete. Recovered from cancer, then won seven titles in one of the hardest competitions in the world. He has also highlighted the bicycle as a cool form of transportation. He has started a charity that has raised millions for cancer treatment and research. Yet he cheated to do this. He managed to get his pulpit to speak because of this cheating. Does the good out weight the bad?

It also seems we must look at it in context. At the time it appears a lot of road cyclists were also cheating. According to the discovery channel's news. In 2011 The time of the winner of the Alpe d'Huez stage would have achieved 40th position in 2001. Even though the bikes are now lighter and are better engineered. So how do we see these things? how do we see any clarity or truth in what he has done? and for me how do brands such as: NIKE, LIVESTRONG, Discovery and US Postal Service all now react after learning about this truth. They have all invested and supported him in many ways. Through sponsorship, through supporting and advertising to employment. Are their brands now tarnished?

How can we be sure of our heroes of the future? Do we need to look at different ways of highlighting people's achievements? Can we ever be sure of our heroes? Are there ways of looking at the good people did?

There is something about these kind of stories that almost makes you re-programme yourself. Associations and beliefs changed and altered forever make you question parts of yourself, and how you have grown up. The belief you can face adversity and win. You can come back from the brink. It is a story that we all crave. It is perhaps the power of such a story. We wanted to believe in it, it made us feel better and that things were possible. It gave us hope. But the story was wrong and now we need to learn new things to believe in.

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