Lance Armstrong has won 7 Tour de France titles, fought and won his battle against cancer and is a well-known philantropist. He has been considered as one of the best athletes the world has ever had, and many have considered him as a role model. Recently, however, he admitted that he doped (see how doping works in the video below) and used performance enhancing drugs whilst competing over the years. A few days ago, he publicly stated that he doped when he was interviewed by Oprah (see the video below). The question now is, where does this leave Lance? Is he still your hero?
The bottom line is that he cheated. He knew what he was doing was wrong, yet he still carried on. He even blatantly denied doping and sued a lot of people for (rightfully) accusing him of cheating. In his interview with Oprah, it was clear that he did what he did because he knew that he could get away with it. It was almost guaranteed that he would not get caught because at that time, the drug tests were flawed and Lance and his team exploited this flaw. Does that make it right? Of course not! But would you do the same thing? It depends. Here’s my question: if someone told you that you can rob a bank or a person and it is guaranteed that you would not get caught, would you do it? Again, your answer may depend on a lot of things. For instance, if you are deperate for money in the sense that someone in your family is dying and she/he needs an expensive operation, you probably would go along with robbing the bank/ person. But you may think twice if you are self-sufficient. Another thing to consider is your personality and your moral views. Even if you have money, the prospect of becoming even richer by not doing much may appeal to you. Lance told Oprah that his mentality was ‘win at all costs’. He wanted to be the greatest (who doesn’t?), but unfortunately, he did it in the wrong way.
Another justification that Lance Armstrong gave was the fact that he believed that other competitors were also doping, therefore what he was doing was OK. In other words, in his eyes, he doped to make the competition fair. Does it make it acceptable? My anwser is no. What he did was wrong and he knew it. It’s appalling.
But he apologised. He admitted to everything that he’s done. He is well aware fo the implications and the repercussions of his actions (now), and he seems willing to make ammends. To me, it takes huge courage to apologise, especially in Lance’s case. He made mistakes and now he’s ready to do the right things to make it up to people. Does his apology undo what he did? Of course not!
Do people have the right to hate him? Yes, but only to a certain extent. He cheated many, many times, yes. But he apologised. I have not yet made my mind about what to make of the situation because I want to see what Lance Armstrong will do after this. What will he do to make ammends to the people that he sued, he publicly called names, and to the public who have loved him and almost worshipped him all these years?
This case makes me think about other sporting legends. Have they all cheated in any way? How? Would they come forward too, just like Lance? I hope so.