The story of cycling champion Lance Armstrong is a narrative of modern times: the pursuit of success in sports at all costs, millionaire sponsorships, cheating, blatant lies and great disappointment for those who saw the figure of the athlete as an inspiration in overcoming obstacles.
Recently, Armstrong confirmed in public what had been said for a while in the world of cycling. This led international authorities of the sport to strip away his numerous victories in the Tour de France, which turned the cyclist into a true phenomenon.
It is unfortunate that those wins were the result of doping and illegal actions, and that the winning image that Americans were proud of for years was based on well-orchestrated dishonesty. Like many lies, this one did not go far.
However, Armstrong’s fall goes beyond sports. His personal battle with cancer turned his image into an example of strong will and perseverance. It led to the creation of the Livestrong Foundation, which helps cancer victims thanks to donations of tens of millions of dollars.
There is a lot to reflect upon based on this. One reflection is that successful athletes are automatically given a public role as a model. Sometimes it is unfair to give them this responsibility; Armstrong not only accepted it, but promoted it every chance he got.
Another is the influence that banned stimulants have. Just last week, the election of new members to the Baseball Hall of Fame was tarnished as a result of the steroid use of major baseball stars like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, among others. The Armstrong case is another example of the need for strict anti-doping controls in professional sports. Fame and money are very big temptations.
Armstrong’s confession will probably have legal repercussions for him. For many Americans, it is the confirmation of the collapse of an idol who set an example for many. It is discovering that the person they admired for years in reality was nothing more than a cheater and a liar.