So, as it turns out, it’s not possible to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles without performance enhancers.
As Lance Armstrong is reportedly preparing to confess to cheating throughout his athletic career during an upcoming interview with Oprah, it’s time to figure out Armstrong’s place in history.
Doping allegations have hounded Armstrong for years, but until recently he fought them with everything he had. He vehemently denied any wrongdoing and was adamant that he was clean. But, over the last year or so, he’s reversed his course. The United States Anti-Doping Agency, or USADA, accused Armstrong of doping and trafficking drugs in June, which he staunchly denied.
But then, in August, Armstrong said he would stop fighting the allegations.
Now he’s admitting his wrongdoing, and that leaves us with a question: Does the lying and the cheating outweigh the good he’s done? Does the fact that his titles were won dishonestly mean more than his work with Livestrong, the cancer support nonprofit that he founded in 1997?
Coming just days after the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, or BBWAA, refused to elect any players to the Baseball Hall of Fame because of lingering questions about steroids, performance enhancers are a big deal right now. I’ve struggled with my stance on performance enhancers and those who have used them a number of times, but I always seem to come to a different conclusion.
Here are the facts: Armstrong is hardly the only person who has ever doped to get ahead in competitive cycling. Most of his competitors were doping just like him. Was it wrong? Sure. Cheating is pretty much always wrong. But how many of his competitors beat cancer and founded an organization like Livestrong? Livestrong is massive and it absolutely helps people.
For that, and that alone, Armstrong should be remembered positively.
But when he sits across from Oprah and it comes time for him to answer the question, let’s hope he understands that people will hate him for what he did. That’s just the way it works. But let’s also hope that the good he’s accomplished doesn’t get overshadowed by the mistakes he has made.
The interview is scheduled to be taped Monday and will air on Thursday.