What happened to Lance Armstrong?
Lance Armstrong, arguably one of the most notable cyclists of all time, was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from competition. Fans of Lance or the sport of cycling are left to wonder why and how this happened.
The U.S. Anti Doping Agency (USADA) has had an ongoing investigation into Lance Armstrong over the last several years. Armstrong has been accused of “doping” during his reign as seven time Tour champion. However, he has never tested positive for any drugs although he has been tested many times over the years. One might legitimately ask the question, why has USADA been so persistent in pursuing Armstrong. That question remains unanswered although Armstrong has simply decided not to fight the agency any longer. The USADA took that concession as an admission of guilt and subsequently stripped him of his titles and imposed a lifetime ban from professional competition. It should be noted that Armstrong never admitted guilt nor was he ever found guilty of any drug infractions.
Armstrong currently spends most of his time raising money and acting as a spokesperson for the Livestrong Foundation, which he started many years ago. The Foundation raises money for cancer research and as a cancer survivor, Armstrong is an effective fund raiser for the Foundation. However, the question remains, why was Armstrong targeted for an investigation in spite of the fact that he is 41 years old and now retired from competition.
Once Lance announced that he would no longer fight the charges by the USADA, donations to his Foundation doubled as his supporters rallied to his cause in spite of the negative news. Armstrong is seen by many as an inspiration given his considerable athletic accomplishments after beating testicular cancer. However, the USADA achieved its goal of stripping the Tour de France champion and its motives remain unclear.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) is headquartered in Switzerland and is not always in sync with the USADA and there could be additional legal maneuvers as the two organizations swap allegations as to which one has jurisdiction in the Armstrong matter.
Whether one likes Lance Armstrong or not matters little today. He has simply chosen to get on with his life and not continue the expensive and emotionally draining task of fighting the legal battle with the USADA. Armstrong will likely continue to compete in non-sanctioned (UCI) events. He recently competed in a triathlon and with his competitive drive he will certainly not quit competing.
No matter what happens in the future, Lance Armstrong’s legacy has been permanently sullied. However, what he accomplished as a competitive athlete may never be duplicated. And, like Barry Bonds, who was accused of taking steroids on the way to hitting more home runs than any baseball player in history, Armstrong will likely be remembered as an athlete who overcame cancer to achieve seven Tour de France championships.