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Lance Armstrong: From Cancer to Competition to Doping Controversy

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Drug use in sports is not news. Neither is doping to gain a competitive edge. Lance Armstrong is a name that has been linked in the past with words like endurance, strength, cancer survivor, perseverance, champion, fighter, and philanthropist. However, over the last decade or so, he has been embroiled in an on-going PED (performance enhancing drug) controversy that has eclipsed the glory he experienced from 1999 to 2005 when he won an unprecedented seven Tour de France cycling titles in a row. What is also being somewhat forgotten is the fact that Armstrong won these titles after successfully battling and surviving testicular cancer, which also infected his lungs, abdomen and brain. Armstrong has been an elite athlete his whole life; first establishing his abilities in junior triathlon competitions, then the meteoric ascendancy to the cycling pantheon, and now in retirement, still competes in marathons and triathlons.

What is truly incredible is that the doping allegations, speculations and growing scandal casts such an enveloping shadow over Armstrong’s entire legacy. The most recent revelations are astounding; Armstrong is in danger of losing all of his Tour de France titles. The USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) is threatening to strip Armstrong of his titles after Armstrong revealed that he is not continuing to fight the charges against him in court. The Agency claims this relinquishing of defense reveals an admission of guilt. Armstrong and his camp are maintaining that the legal fight has become an impediment in his work to fight cancer and raise funds toward that cause.

PED Allegations Gain Popularity

Doping in professional sports, cycling included, has almost transcended the actual competition of sports, especially this summer with the London Olympics. Doping was once the side show entertainment and has now almost displaced competition and become the main attraction; court room transcripts overtaking game-day and race-day statistics. Whether athletes like Armstrong are guilty has become a forgone conclusion; with blood samples being kept for years until new tests can substantiate speculations it is clear that the soap opera of scandal is more appealing than hearing that Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG campaign has raised almost $500 million towards fighting cancer, along with $6.5 million of his own personal contributions.

What Legacy Will Be Left?

Armstrong has tested clean in hundreds of PED tests over the years; his former teammates, journalists, and others have been the main stimulus in doping implications. On the one hand it is discouraging to see the triumphs of Armstrong’s cycling career being vacated, more importantly it is encouraging to see his continued perseverance in raising awareness and monies for the fight against cancer. In a bigger picture and perspective, fighting diseases and improving a quality of life counts far more than personal accomplishments.

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