Is It Still Cool To Like Lance Armstrong?

25
Oct
2010

I just took part in another LiveSTRONG Challenge here in Austin, Texas over the weekend.  It was a great ride yesterday and it’s always a good time being part of this fantastic event.

Now, although the LiveSTRONG Challenge is put on by the LiveSTRONG Organization….you know that many of the participants are there because of the love and admiration they have for Lance Armstrong.  With all that has happened this past year, and another round of allegations, I think there have been more than a few people jumping off the Lance bandwagon.  Did this also affect the LiveSTRONG Challenge participation?  I think it did.

Last year the event registration was sold out, so they added entry spots to allow for more riders this year….but then didn’t sell out.  But I’ll tell you this….it sure didn’t matter to those of us who participated.

There is no denying that Lance’s star rating has diminished a little over the past year, but to me and millions of other riders, he’s still a cycling (and cancer advocacy) hero.  Yes, it’s still cool to like Lance Armstrong.

I don’t know the facts or the truth about whether Lance engaged in systematic doping as a professional cyclist, but I don’t really care either.  This is just my thoughts, but I’m pretty sure every single top pro cyclist is using something.  They might not all be taking hardcore drugs and enhancements, but in order to compete at that level, they are doing “something” to be up there.  But because we like to single out the champs and the heros, people like Lance Armstrong get hit the hardest.

Whatever becomes of the doping scandal, I’m going to choose to remember Lance as a man that brought cycling to the forefront, increased the popularity of the sport, and created an amazing cancer fighting organization.

What do you think?  Is it still cool to like Lance Armstrong?

Viva Le Lance

Enjoy Your Ride

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24 Responses to “ Is It Still Cool To Like Lance Armstrong? ”

  1. KK on October 8, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Not cool

  2. bike_writer on October 5, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    It’s still very cool.

  3. James Wanless on October 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I won’t diminish what his Tour victories did for cycling in general, or what his celebrity and effort was able to accomplish for cancer research fundraising.  However, he wouldn’t have had any of that without the doping.  Some people say they don’t believe a word of it without concrete proof.  If previous allegations (by teammates no less) and the rumoured ’99 doping issue weren’t enough, I’d have to say Tyler Hamilton’s recent allegations pretty much cinch the deal.  What about the fact that in his prime he was able to slaughter competition, in the Alps, most of whom were proven to have been doping at the time … and after surviving cancer.

    There is a little too much evidence there to be tossed aside because you ‘want’ him to be beyond reproach.  So, you ask whether it’s cool to like Lance.  I’d say it’s very cool to admire his accomplishments on the bike (comparing dopers to dopers) and with regard to fundraising.  I can’t respect him as a person, though, and not because he doped.  Since he has managed to silence most of his critics and avoid a proven test result, he’s basically taunted and challenged the media and others to produce such a result.

    He’s got too much money and prestige tied up in continuing the lie to ever come clean so those who want a result before dissing him will be able to continue living in a fantasy, while those of us who feel he’s just a cheat will never be satisfied.  There’s no real winner here, except Lance.  What I find the most upsetting about the post above are the following two passages:

    >> I don’t know the facts or the truth about whether Lance engaged in
    systematic doping as a professional cyclist, but I don’t really care
    either.

    Shouldn’t you care just on ethical grounds?

    >> But because we like to single out the
    champs and the heros, people like Lance Armstrong get hit the hardest.

    Really?  I bet Hamilton (who voluntarily gave up Olympic gold) and Landis (who was stripped of his Tour victory) would beg to differ.  Even if Lance was stripped of his prestige and Tour victories, he’s so wealthy now that he’ll never be hit as hard as those two.

  4. Matt on October 29, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Absolutely it is ok to still love/like/admire the man! He is a cycling and humanitarian legend.

    Until they have 100% concrete proof against him then I believe what he says about doping. That may be naive but that’s the way I feel about it all.

    In the end those who hate him will feel vindicated if anything is ever proved and those of us that love him probably won’t care.

    Lance is so much more than 7 TdF wins.

  5. Clive Chapman on October 27, 2010 at 12:23 am

    I’m not a huge road racing fan, I watch the TDF and that’s it. My take on it is does it really matter? He’s obviously a great athlete who probably has doped (not that I care as it seems most of the peloton does) and has fought and won a huge personal battle against cancer. His athletic career is over. He’s now on a crusade against cancer and if his force of will he took into his racing is taken into his cancer campaign then brilliant and good luck to him. I’m not getting the extremes of opinion about him that he seems to generate.

  6. Tom Bracegirdle on October 26, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I think Lance is an incredible human being, not only what he has achieved physically but what he has done with his life off the bike.
    What he and Livestrong do for so many millions is just unbelievable. I cannot put into words how much I admire his work and how much respect I have for him for what he does for those affected by cancer and other illnesses. This side of his life for me is nothing to do with the Lance Armstrong associated with cycling myself and millions of others have come to love, but the Lance Armstrong ‘off camera’ as it were. The work he does for Livestrong is purely from his heart, behind the scenes work that people who don’t admire him don’t see. Sometimes I fear people don’t look past the bike, they don’t see the cancer battling Lance, only the bike riding Lance. If people dont admire Lance for his bike riding for a variety of reasons they should still be able to admire the man for the incredible work he does helping others around the globe.
    Not only do I love Lance for his cancer work, I also love him for his ability on the bike. I have no doubt, not one single percent of doubt that Lance has taken any performance enhancing drug. How could I? How could I aim to live my life in a way like lance and be inspired on and off the bike every day by Lance Armstrong if I believed in the slightest that he was a cheat. The man isn’t a cheat. The UCI have never announced any trace of an illegal substance in any of lances samples since his return to cycling after cancer. Now I don’t want to start sounding like one of these people who searches the web for facts and figures about Lances connection with (or in my belief) without drugs. This is coming from the heart. How could a man chasing after a career in cycling with every bone in his body, be diagnosed with cancer…survive cancer… and then risk his life by taking drugs with massive side affects just to be successful in sport? He and no other human in the right mind would do it. You only have to read his books and look at his fitness data from when Lance was young to see he was a extraordinary athlete from a young age. His cardiovascular system and respiratory system are far more efficient and advanced than not only other humans but far more advanced than other pro cyclists. It is a combination of a fantastic anatomy, incredible dedication and unbelievable fighting spirit that make Lance the Cyclist he was and is today, not some pathetic drugs.
    I am an extremely keen cyclist, I draw almost every ounce of my inspiration from Lance,I race with a picture of him in my back pocket, I wear a livestrong band every second of every day to help raise awareness of his organisation, I make moral decisions based on what lance has taught me in life. He is mine, more than anyone else’s role modal in life and on the bike. He is a living star, living legend and living God.
    By the way, in response to your initial question, I think he’s pretty damn cool :D
    Vive le Lance <3

    Tom Bracegirdle
    Twitter: Bracey111

    • Darryl on October 26, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      Awesome response, Tom. Thanks so much for this. Yeah, you would think that after the thousands of random drug tests he has gone through (all coming out negative) that people would just get off his back already. I agree with you that he is not taking any hardcore drugs, but I do think that he has taken some enhancements along the way. (Just my opinion). Nothing against him, I believe that to be in that calibre you have to be taking something to help your performance and stay on an even playing field with the others. Maybe he hasn’t….I’m really not sure. But like I say in the post, I don’t really care either. I honestly don’t pay attention to it at all. He’s a great cyclist (one of the best of all time), he’s an incredible advocate of the sport, and what he’s done with LiveSTRONG is absolutely brilliant. That’s all that matters to me.

      Darryl

  7. Eric Hutchins on October 26, 2010 at 7:50 am

    For me it first starts with a fundamental concept that is very very important to me, and that is that a person is “Innocent until PROVEN guilty”. Landis or any other jealous idiot with an axe to grind saying its SO, does not make it SO. I have seen so many people including some very close to me, that are absolutely positively innocent of something, be dragged through the courts, be trashed in the public and media, only to later be proven innocent. But even when it is PROVEN that they are innocent, that cloak of suspicion never goes away.

    So, any time I hear people yak about how guilty someone is, when they know nothing about it, except what they are spoon fed by the media, or gossip, I want to just shake them.

    With respect to Lance, I will accept his innocence until something else is proven. In addition, I certainly do not believe that he was doing anything so substantially different than any of his major competitors that would explain his amazing run.
    His workouts are legendary, his grit, his tolerence for pain and his sheer will is something that I have great respect for. In addition, IMO, he is simply physically gifted.

    I remember that as a youngster he came to St Croix to compete in a very difficult triathlon. He was up against many of the top pros at the time, and he was right in the mix the whole race even though he was just a kid with almost no triathlon training and no experience.

    We are so quick to make people into heroes, and then with as much zeal as we had to make statues of them, we seem to want to tear them down.

    He is just a guy, with a lot of heart, that rides really well, that uses his platform to try to do some good for a cause that is personally important.

    The rest is just a lot of hoooey.

    And I think he is cool.

    • Loving the Bike on October 26, 2010 at 8:06 am

      Great comments Eric, thanks for leaving them. I totally agree…..if Lance did take banned substances I know that he was not alone so that puts everyone back on the same playing field again. But the incredible hard work and determination that he put in was all his own. It was that ingredient that made him a champion.

      Darryl

  8. Justin on October 25, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Lance is my hero, why, because he got me into cycling. I watched the tour de france this year on high def, never being into cycling, i thought the scenery was awesome. Well the more i watched it over the next few weeks, i started to really enjoy it and decided to get a bike. Months later, my health, and my kids thank Lance for that. I am healthier then i have ever been. I ride mountain bike and road. I wake up every morning and try to hit 10-30 miles before work. If it was not for watching lance, i never would of started. I also love what he has done with his bike shop mellow johnnys, pretty cool concept. I still think he is pretty darn cool

  9. Rider on October 25, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    One only has to look at the list of doping cases in cycling on Wikipedia to see how common it has been. Does the fact that there are many names on that list implicate LA? On the other hand, how about all the names that are *not* on that list? That number dwarfs the number that are. Such a number includes both extremely successful riders at the top classifications, as well as many not so well-known. Does that fact lend any more credence that he didn’t dope? In reality, ‘guilt by association’ is no more logical a conclusion than ‘innocence by association.’

    It’s very well-established that he is one of the most, if not the most, tested athletes of all time.

    It’s also well-established that the French really were not fans of LA, and that is putting it mildly. If there was one rider they wanted to destroy, it most certainly was Lance…so while they were banning all these other riders for several years, Lance was winning several tours, and never testing positive.

    As far as Landis is concerned, that’s just a very sad story. He’s completely lost all credibility. I was a huge Landis fan when he was ripping out his insides, pulling the Posties up those mountains in ’04 and ’05.

    Like it or not, an investigation brings some tarnish, even if innocence is ultimately proclaimed. From a legal perspective, I have a hard time believing that they can prove doping now, if they couldn’t produce a single positive test over the past few years. In the US, it’s innocence until proven guilty…and bear in mind, this is still just an investigation.

    So, yes, it’s cool. :)

  10. Maggi on October 25, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Judging from the changes I saw in donations this year (and the people I spoke to about it), and the changes among my friends who registered or chose not to — I honestly think the economy had at least as much to do, if not more, with lower turnout & fundraising this year. Many of us are either in belt-tightening mode ourselves, or have friends who are in difficult financial straits. It’s hard to ask for donations, no matter how worthy the cause. It’s hard to gear yourself up for a Challenge weekend, feeling selfish about all the FUN you’re having when one of your friends donated his last $10 until his next unemployment check, because he cares about the cause that much.

    I have a huge amount of respect for Lance Armstrong — and, even more importantly, for the foundation he created. Whether he ever doped or not, whether I agree with his every action or not, the simple fact is that he is human and flawed, as we all are; but, more importantly, he used his celebrity to create something bigger than himself. That, to me, is more important than any of his athletic achievements.

    • Loving the Bike on October 25, 2010 at 9:47 pm

      You’re probably right, Maggi…..there are quite a few factors that went into the participation and donation level at this year’s LiveSTRONG. But even with all those factors, the event turned out to be an incredible success….which goes to show that Lance is as “cool” as ever.

      Like you said, he has created something bigger than himself…and it is that creation that should be celebrated and remembered.

      Darryl

  11. bikerly on October 25, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I just want to go on record by saying that I use Guinness as an enhancement ; )

    Glad you rode. Hopefully I’ll be running in February for Livestrong. Cheers.

  12. Allison Peacock on October 25, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I agree, Darryl. I don’t classify myself as a die-hard Lance fan since I don’t really “get” celebrity worship in this country.

    But what Lance has done for both the sport of cycling and cancer advocacy is commendable, whoever he is. Period.

    • Loving the Bike on October 25, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      That’s right, if it wasn’t for Lance we never would have had so much fun over the weekend at the LiveSTRONG Challenge.

      Darryl

    • Richard Masoner on October 25, 2010 at 6:29 pm

      I’m with Allison — I appreciate what Armstrong has done to bring awareness of the sport, but I’m not a hero worshiper. I *do* get a little annoyed that even today many people come to big bike races specifically to look for Lance Armstrong, but that’s not *his* fault.

    • Traci on October 26, 2010 at 8:40 am

      I agree with Allison and Richard in that I just don’t understand why any celebrity is always looked upon as a hero. I’m definitely not into celebrity worship and often joke that any big name actor/actress could cross my path and I wouldn’t even notice :) Many celebrities/athletes do absolutely nothing good (or only bring bad publicity to their sport as with people like Michael Vick). At least Lance has done quite a lot of good for several causes, regardless of whether he was guilty of doping or not. And like you said Darryl, it’s not as if every other cyclist at that level isn’t just as guilty. It’s only a matter of time before they will be under scrutiny as well!

  13. Lori Fox Rossi on October 25, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Very cool !!

  14. DareToBecome on October 25, 2010 at 7:36 am

    I still like him…but alas I guess I am not perfect like the rest of the people who want to judge him. Regardless of any decision he may or may not have made regarding his cycling, what he has done with LiveStrong is incredible and for people to stop supporting that effort is a shame.

  15. Pamela on October 25, 2010 at 7:09 am

    I don’t know a professional sport where the highly competitive don’t struggle to gain every advantage, while doing things mentally and physically most of us would never willingly undertake to become and stay the best. I think that to make some of these methods criminal for a professional athlete, but not for an amateur, is insane. I also believe that there is as much pressure put on these athletes by those that make money from them as from their internal drive. And I do not believe anyone at the top does not do it. Any sport except table tennis :) Joshing. JK. Anyway, that’s my opinion. Does it make it GOOD b/c everyone does it, or does it send the rigth message that that so many break the law? Nope. But I break the law every time I speed in my car and million other little things, and I bet everyone reading this comment does, too. So how do we justify OUR behaviors, and point our fingers at others? Is it just who gets caught?
    I am fan of Lance for the things he has accomplished for cancer survivors, for bringing bicycling into more lives, for championing bicycle commuting. I never was a fan because I thought he was a moral compass. I can separate the two. And there’s a big difference from a Ben Rothliesberger or those that casually break the law repeatedly with illegal recreational drugs and overindulgence in alcohol (even when not illegal) that cause huge impairments in judgment and functionality (and who then inflict themselves on other humans, whether behind the wheel of a car, or just be stupid-azz behavior towards others) that I find reprehensible, personally.

    • Loving the Bike on October 25, 2010 at 9:34 am

      Thanks for your awesome reply….I really appreciate it Pamela. I totally see where you’re coming from and appreciate you adding your comments to this post.

      Darryl

  16. austincyclist on October 25, 2010 at 6:42 am

    I’m a mountain biker.

    That’s what got me into cycling. My brother lived up North when I first started college, during hte summers, I would go live w/ him, they had a lovely trail called the Pottawatomie (spelling? aka the poto). I was hooked, that led to some years of weekend warrior mtnbike racing. Eventually the guys I rode with did these long road-ride rallys, I did a couple on my mtnbike, eventually doing the hotter-hell-hundred on mtnbike w/ slicks, the full 100m. Shortly after that, guess what, I got a road bike. During some of this early riding, the Lance hoopla is definitely what drew me into watching road cycling, and I think he did for alot of others.
    For me, i was/am a big Lance fan, but I didn’t like seeing all the eggs in one basket. That’s a bad thing about road cycling, and having the TDF as the crowning event, it creates a single person to rule all, not the team so much (although we all know how important the team is). Same fault with Golf and Tiger. So, when Floyd came into hte picture, not quite the Cancer Free Superstar, but with another interesting story, on Lance’s coat-tails, I was finally a big road cycling fan. When he came back positive, I was one of the guys following the story for 2 years, believed he was innocent, no doubt… mainly because I didn’t think someone could do a traveling road show, write a book(I bought it), and get folks to donate to fighting a bad testing system thru the floyd fairness fund(I’m cheap so didn’t do it).. morally, and based on how floyd carried himself, it didn’t make sense. Now that has all come to past.. Floyd has spilled his allegations, I believe them, except for the reason he came out.. he came out for revenge and because there was no other option left.. He was going to Rock Racing earlier, they didn’t get a pro-tour license (because of Floyd) and that world was falling apart, so he went to the good-cause Bahati Foundation, thought Floyd was finally on hte right track, but then they didn’t get the tour of California invite, after he was cheered on the previous year at same event for his return, big snub, final straw.. the timing of the leaked letters is just after the TOC denial.. This is where the floyd stuff hits the airwaves.. so I do applaud him for coming clean about himself, the methods, but not for naming names (where the Floyd who lied so care-free comes out again). The reason for coming out after the years of lying, makes Floyd a pretty bad dude.. And he doesn’t have a foundation in his name to fall back on..

    Enter Lance, its obvious with Basso, Jan, Tyler, Heras, Floyd, blah blah blah that all the top guys did it. But Lance with his Cancer fight did something different. He sparked the interest in Cycling that a certain Greg Lemond did back in his day, and he caused a revolution in the form of his cancer foundation. Both Morally sound items.

    The grey area, with the doping and such, and where the cancer fighting, cycling promoting, hero-Lance and the villian-cheating-win-at-all costs side meet.. is where I believe Tailwin sports (or that org was called) that owed him 5 mil after another TDF win, but they found EPO in his 99 blood, via non-standard (but still legit) testing. The company didn’t want to pay his 5m bonus because of that evidence, he sued and got something like 7m out of it. That piece alone, despite all the good, even with the epo-usage and transfusions put aside, is a very unmoral thing to do. This point and others similar to it, is where I feel Lance need to go down.

    Ned and Tinker are the true hero’s of cycling for me, but for this Road diversion, I’m still a fan of Tyler, Lance, Floyd, and Lemond.. for bringing cycling to the forefront and the good causes they have fought.. The money raised is done, its there, it won’t go away.. if the brand is eventually tarnished for Livestrong in having all its eggs in one basket, and this impacts the foundation’s ability to keep raking it in, so be it, especially if it was built on a lie, it is/was a good thing while it lasted! But I hear the train a comin..

    • Darryl on October 25, 2010 at 3:12 pm

      Wow, what a reply. Thanks for taking the time to write such great comments with incredible explanation. I think you’ve got some great insight into all of this and only time will tell what will come out of this. Thanks again.

      Darryl

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