I bought into the idea of Lance Armstrong.
I bought into the idea sold by the bright yellow bracelets with an embossed “Livestrong” embedded in the rubber. I watched every Tour de France with bated breath. I chose to disregard the onslaught of doping accusations. I erased any possible doubts by reading his biography.
Then, two years ago, Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance enhancing drugs while racing in the Tour de France. And so let us commemorate how a man who shares the last name of some of our country’s most iconic figures, the first man to walk on the moon and and an accomplished musician, truly became the dopiest Armstrong.
Born and raised in Plano, Texas, Lance Armstrong grew up with his mother and stepfather. When he was 21 years old, Lance signed with the Motorola cycling team Clearly. By 1996, Lance was the youngest road race champion ever and was ranked the number one cyclist in the world. It all came crashing down on an October afternoon in 1996 when Lance was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer.
Lance relocated to the Indiana University Medical Center to complete his treatment, joined by his teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife Betsy. After undergoing brain surgery and chemotherapy, Lance beat the odds and was declared cancer free in February of 1997. Despite the many nay-sayers and the fact that his old cycling team had cancelled his contract, Lance was ready to reclaim his popularity and status as one of the best cyclists in the world. He joined the U.S. Postal team and found a group that would go to extreme lengths to win. The team’s impressive success and ability to crush others was astounding.
Starting in 1999, Lance Armstrong impressed the world with his speed and determination to beat the competition, winning the Tour de France seven years in a row alongside his teammates on the U.S. Postal team. To this day, Lance Armstrong is still the only man to accomplish this impressive feat.
But in the midst of this impressive winning streak, authors David Walsh and Pierre Ballester, along with other members of the cycling community, accused Armstrong of lying about past doping. Rumors festered for a while, a federal case was made, and then the case mysteriously disappeared after Armstrong called some select government individuals. The notoriety of Lance Armstrong and the good deeds done by the Lance Armstrong Foundation were too great for any one person to tackle.
But as it goes with most heroic downfalls, hubris got in the way of a clean getaway. In 2009, Armstrong announced his return to cycling after retiring, in part due to his legal troubles. Two years later he retired once again, facing multiple charges and cases concerning his use of performance enhancing drugs. The accusations arose after Lance’s old teammate, Floyd Landis confessed on national television that he and the entire U.S. Postal team were forced into a doping program while racing with Armstrong. When Frankie Andreu refused to participate, Floyd Landis was recruited to replace him. Despite his adamant testimonies, Armstrong was caught in a web of lies. Floyd Landis’ public confession brought to light an Armstrong unknown to the public, an Armstrong who was willing to lie, deceive, and malign the reputation of others in order to achieve great success.
Finally, on January 19, 2013, Lance Armstrong admitted to the world on Oprah—the only decent place to make a shocking confession—that he had been taking performance enhancing drugs while racing in the Tour de France. He had been lying for 20 years. Keep in mind that I’m 21 years old.
So where is Armstrong today? The government is suing Armstrong on behalf of the Postal Service for $100 billion, attempting to regain the sponsorship money they paid to Armstrong. He is no longer earning millions of dollars in sponsorship money; he is now using all that wealth to pay for numerous legal fees.
As I mentioned earlier, there have been many famous Armstrongs throughout history, but I hope this proves that Lance is without a doubt the dopiest Armstrong of them all.