One person who keeps cropping up in the news still is Lance Armstrong. Sport champion, cancer survivor, a public figure, and founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, people worshipped him across the globe. His net worth was pegged at $125 million (£80.4 million). Now Lance is considered sports’ most notorious drugs cheat. He has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and has a lifelong ban from sporting events.
Armstrong was classified as having won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005. Yet, allegations of doping have hounded Lance from the start of his recovery from cancer to win the Tour de France in 1999 through to his retirement and beyond.
Clearing his name
In 1999, David Walsh was the first journalist who accused Lance of doping to win the Tour de France. Walsh wrote in The Sunday Times that he watched the 1999 race in sadness. Armstrong’s astonishing exploits, just three years after his successful battle with cancer, did not add up. Walsh called for an investigation into the Tour de France in July 1999. This was the first step of a campaign which continued for thirteen years and led to expose Lance of his doping.
Although stripped of all his titles, Armstrong kept up his PR battle against the United States Anti-Doping Agency, calling its investigation a “witch hunt” and a “vendetta.” USADA then did something that dismayed Armstrong’s legal team: It released thousands of pages of documents from the investigation on its website, including affidavits from about a dozen former teammates, all of whom accused him of doping.
Shortly after the documents were released, Nike dropped its sponsorship of Armstrong. Within a day, all of his other major sponsors had done the same. It was estimated that Lance lost $75 million (£48.2 million) worth of sponsorship.
Furthermore, Lance’s cancer charity, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, cut ties with Armstrong and later changed its name to The Livestrong Foundation. So it seemed Armstrong had nothing left to lose.
Despite having continuously denied drug use throughout the second phase of his career, in January 2013 Armstrong actually confessed to doping in a television interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey. It was a Public Relations disaster in the making. Fair to say the world was stunned. Armstrong was a hero to many, a symbol of hope.
A legacy tarnished
Last week, an arbitration tribunal ordered Armstrong to repay Dallas-based SCA Promotions Inc. $10 million (£6.4 million) because of the cyclist’s years of deception. SCA paid Armstrong and Tailwind, the since-dissolved team management company, about $12 million (£7.7 million) in bonuses during Armstrong’s career, when he won seven Tour de France titles. The arbitration majority said the $10 million (£6.4 million) was a penalty for Armstrong’s lying and efforts to intimidate or coerce witnesses in the previous case.
In January, Lance Armstrong decided to do an interview with the BBC. The public still remain sceptical of Lance’s previous apology, and his interview with the BBC was his latest, if not last, attempt to state his case, rewrite his narrative and rectify his reputation.
However, when asked if he’d dope again, he says: “If I was racing in 2015, no, I wouldn’t do it again, because I don’t think you have to. If you take me back to 1995, when it was completely and totally pervasive, I’d probably do it again.”
Sorry, what? He wouldn’t dope now, not because it’s wrong, but because it’s not necessary. What a foolish thing to say, Lance.
Opinion is split as to whether Lance should be allowed his titles back and his lifelong ban shortened.
So my question comes down to this. Does Lance deserve to be forgiven? He seems to want a career in politics, but to me Armstrong should realise that the world has had enough of his lies. He doesn’t even seem sorry, let alone embarrassed for his actions.
In my view, Lance Armstrong does not deserve a second chance.
What do you think? Does Lance Armstrong deserve a second chance? Have your say in the comments section below.