“There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
- Foo Fighters “My Hero”
It looks like you run (or cycle) away from doping charges, but you can’t hide.
Cycling legend Lance Armstrong dropped his appeal of performance enhancing drug charges from the US Anti-Doping Agency.
As he waives his arbitration process, he is also waving goodbye to his seven Tour de France titles, all being stripped by the organization. And the 40-year-old will also face a lifetime ban from the sport.
He says he is not admitting guilt, just exhaustion from the fight. He has passed hundreds of drug tests over his career, which he cites as Exhibit A in his defense.
So where does that leave us?
1) If true, it is a stunning fall for a global phenomenon. Armstrong was the face of his sport unlike any other athlete. Name another cyclist. Try. Chances are, you can’t off the top of your head.
2) His charitable work – basically creating a modern cancer elimination movement with his LIVESTRONG foundation – will face the test of potential backlash. There is a contrast pending between Joe Paterno and Lance Armstrong. For Paterno, his negligence undid decades of goodwill. Will we still look at Armstrong as a positive force in the universe now? Does his “inspiration” status take a major fall?
3) It’s shocking that someone who believes so strongly in their innocence would give up the fight. He’s an icon around the world and it’s curious that at this point he decided to give up the fight. Either this is a witch hunt that he knows he can’t win…or USADA has some sort of evidence against him that he doesn’t want getting out. Neither situation should make fans and observers feel good.
4) Beyond a doubt, this is the biggest and most important drug suspension in the history of sports. Barry Bonds was big, yes, but Armstrong is an international hero. Will the enforcement groups rest on their laurels or go into overdrive, motivated by their apparent success?