I still rock my Livestrong bracelet like it’s 2004. And Lance Armstrong will forever be a hero to me.
Armstrong was officially stripped of his seven Tour de France victories, the International Cycling Union (UCI) announced Monday.
According to Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI, “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling. This is a landmark day for cycling.”
Say cycling a few more times.
Armstrong may not be remembered the same way in cycling ever again, but he’ll still be remembered as a hero for current and future cancer survivors.
Armstrong will also be banned from the sport for life in what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency calls a “massive doping program that tainted all of his greatest triumphs.”
Twenty-six people testified that Armstrong and his teams used and trafficked banned substances and routinely used blood transfusions.
But cheating in cycling is like drinking water. Everybody does it. I still refuse to believe that Armstrong ever cheated, and even if he did, wouldn’t you?
Armstrong has suffered through pain just about every day of his life since he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 and made a miraculous comeback to win cycling’s most grueling test seven times.
But in less than a week, Armstrong has lost all of his sponsorships, even though he never officially tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Oakley is the latest endorser to fall by the wayside. Trek, Giro helmets, 24-Hour Fitness, Anheuser-Busch, Nike and Johnson Health Tech have also dropped Armstrong in the last week. Armstrong even stepped down as the chair of his foundation, Livestrong.
A company spokesman from Oakley said, “Based on UCI’s decision today and the overwhelming evidence that U.S. Anti-Doping Agency presented, Oakley has severed its longstanding relationship with Lance Armstrong, effective immediately.”
I get what Oakley is saying. It wants to cover its back and avoid some bad PR by dropping Armstrong. A lot of the same companies did the same thing when Tiger Woods admitted to marriage infidelities in 2009.
Oakley did say it will continue to support the Livestrong initiative, and Nike and Johnson Health Tech will do the same. A nice gesture, but why not take a risk by supporting Armstrong through thick and thin?
What Woods did was more egregious than Armstrong’s actions, and Woods still kept the support of Nike, Upper Deck, NetJets and EA Sports. Armstrong has nothing.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said he “no longer considers Armstrong to be a champion from 1999 to 2005” and “wants him to pay back his prize money.”
“Over my dead body” is what Armstrong should say in response. Fellow American Floyd Landis won the event in 2006 and was later disqualified because he tested positive for synthetic testosterone. Did he have to pay back his prize money? No.
The 2010 race didn’t have a winner declared until February 2012 because so many people dope in this sport.
Nine riders have been disqualified from the Tour de France for doping since 2006, the first year Armstrong didn’t win the race since 1999.
“I’ve been better, but I’ve also been worse,” Armstrong said to a Livestrong charity fundraiser on Sunday.
Nobody at the UCI or USADA will ever go through what Armstrong has.
I realize I may be in the minority here with my support for Armstrong, but the memories of all of those days in the summer getting up at 6 a.m. to watch Lance pedal to another Tour victory will never go away, allegations be damned.