As the headlines of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s mid-2012 investigation of the renowned American cyclist Lance Armstrong made their way into the world of sports, many were shocked at the accusations made against the cyclist.
Armstrong was regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time before the doping allegations, which quickly tarnished his reputation. The blood samples from 2009 and 2010 of the seven-time Tour de France champion were retroactively tested and found to contain banned substances, including the blood-booster erythropoietin and other steroids.
In light of these revelations and their effect on his formerly illustrious career, the cyclist was forced to resign as director of the Livestrong Foundation, formerly the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which provides support for those affected by cancer—a cause dear to Armstrong, a survivor of testicular cancer.
Numerous sponsors have since dropped Armstrong, including RadioShack and Nike. The most devastating damage to Armstrong’s reputation, however, came from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which stripped the road-racing cyclist of all seven of his Tour de France titles. In addition, the International Olympic Committee requested that Armstrong return the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Armstrong has also been banned from professional cycling.
As Armstrong’s former fans—who knew him as a good-natured philanthropist—look at the athlete in abhorrence of his athletic misdemeanors, not everyone is taking the news the same way.
“There are three distinct groups of reactionaries to this scandal,” says third-year neuroscience major Matthew Tran. “The first group hates him for what he’s done and sees his campaigns as phony; the second group is lenient towards his actions, as he’s become a beacon of hope for cancer patients; the third is unsure.”
Tran describes himself as “a mix of the second and third. To me, as an athlete he’s completely in the wrong. As a person and role model, I have yet to decide.”
“I understand that doping is a huge issue, and this is one of the biggest sport scandals of all time, but it’s unfair to forget what he’s done with and for cancer,” he adds. “If he didn’t vehemently deny all the accusations against him, I think I would have an even harder time coming to terms with all this.”
Kyle Kuczynski, a third-year history and political science major, was shocked by Armstrong’s admission of guilt. “At first when they stripped him of his medals, I did not want to believe that he was taking performance-enhancing drugs. Now that the evidence is out, it’s revealed that he has lied for over a decade,” says Kuczynski. “I think that it’s an absolute shame.”
Kuczynski notes that Armstrong was integral in popularizing the sport of cycling in North America with his Tour de France wins, and hopes that his philanthropic work will not be overlooked in light of his recent confession. “What he did for cancer will never be forgotten, and this scandal should not compromise the integrity of what he has done,” he says.
The doping scandal has spawned many anti-Armstrong campaigns; Sports Illustrated named Armstrong the “Anti-Sportsman of the Year”. Like many disgraced athletes who have been publicly ridiculed for their unsportsmanlike conduct, Armstrong is being furiously sought after by media outlets to comment on the events that have transpired.
On January 17, Armstrong sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a televised interview to admit his guilt publicly. In the interview, Armstrong admitted to doping and named several banned performance-enhancing substances, including human growth hormone, EPO, and cortisone. Armstrong claimed that he ceased using the banned substances in 2005.