Lance Armstrong’s confession on Oprah has been a long coming admission after over a decade of fighting rumors regarding his success. Lance Armstrong was a fairly unknown cyclist who contracted cancer, overcame it, and then emerged as a cycling superstar who dominated the sport.
The very nature of this feel good story, much like Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend’s tragic death, strained the more skeptical in the cycling and media community. How was it that an athlete who was fairly unremarkable before cancer became so dominant afterwards?
Then there were the whistleblowers that hounded him for years with stories of his doping, eventually resulting in several of his teammates describing him as the ringleader of doping that dominated the US team and the sport in general.
The first major effect of Lance’s confession is the huge blow to his reputation. Though various media writers and the cycling community were beginning to pick apart his story and deceptions, there was still a large contingent of people who believed in Armstrong.
He was a symbol, with his livestrong arm bracelets and fantastic contributions to cancer research and medicine, for all those affected by the disease. For all the good he had accomplished in this field, many were willing to jump through the mental hoops necessary to believe that he was innocent despite the mounting evidence. Other fans undoubtedly didn’t encounter much of the more damning evidence that suggested Armstrong’s guilt.
That’s all gone now, washed away, with his confession. Lance Armstrong achieved his spectacular results in the Tour de France through a superbly executed doping regimen that pushed him to the top of the sport.
The stories and reports of how he bullied and attacked anyone who tried to blow the whistle on his career are now stains on his reputation as marks of a man willing to go to great lengths to protect and cover up his lies. Those who claimed from the start that he was a cheater and a bully are now more credible when they stories of how he abused his power to crush his opponents.
Secondly, we have the consequences for doping within cycling and the world’s major sports such as basketball, soccer, and football. Lance Armstrong passed hundreds of drug tests, many with cycling agencies watching him closely ready to pounce.
What other conclusion can be drawn from Lance’s confession and the reports that he initiated a major drug program for his team than that drug testing provides false confidence in the innocence of our major, successful athletes?
What other famous cyclists or athletes of the last few decades have been using similarly sophisticated doping methods to achieve dominance and avoid detection? Can we trust anyone? Lance Armstrong, though frequently accused, was a sparkling celebrity for a long time. A symbol for the triumph of the human will, yet he was deceiving the world the entire time.
The final consequence comes for the cycling world, which now has to face the Armstrong’s planned testimony against officials from the International Cycling Union. He also may testify against his old US Postal service team and USA cycling, with the possible result that his doping program was supported and enabled by major officials across the cycling world.
It’s possible that Armstrong will reveal himself to be a pawn in the hands of more powerful figures within the cycling world who were looking to boost the sport’s popularity with an appealing hero. The damage done to the sport by the destruction of that hero and mythos could be massive.
However, it appears as though the other major sports are dealing with the same crisis. They’re all in the same boat with major heroes stained by the possibility of drug use, cheating, and deception. The lesson for cycling and sports fans, don’t make too much of these athletes, and don’t believe everything you hear.
Author Bio: IanB writes for USA broadcast weekly, where you can read up on trends and news stories within the US every week.