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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lance Armstrong vs. Everyone else

As you probably know by now Lance Armstrong has supposedly admitted to blood doping and lying about it while he was winning his 7 Tour De France titles. 

I scan the news everyday and he is getting crucified right now.  It is hard to find an internet site, a paper, or magazine that does not have his picture plastered on it with a headline that reads something like "Cheater," or "Liar." 

I am curious, what do you all think about this?

As someone who is in the Fitness and athletic industry I can understand why he did it.  I do not personally believe in it, but I get it. 

When you are competing at the elite level like that there is such a small margin that separates the winners from everyone else.  If you are better than everyone else, you will win, pretty simple right.  Well, what if "everyone else," starts using performance enhancers.  They provide just enough to lift them from 3rd place to 1st.  What is the guy who was the best supposed to do?  How is he ever supposed to win, to reclaim his rightful spot at the top, unless he does what everyone else is doing?

What really bothers me about this whole thing, is why Lance?  Why is he labeled a liar and a cheat.  Why is all the good he has done, being cast aside right now?  Is it to sell more newspapers?  To drive TV ratings up?

I ask because he lied, but so do our elected leaders don't they? 

Here in the USA we recently had the Presidential election.  Over the course the election there are three debates between the two opponents.  When the debates end, one of the first things to happen, is the news organizations cut to the "fact check" room.  The fact check room is just what its name implies, it is a place to check the facts, to see who lied to us and about what.

Why are there not more stories, of equal magnitude to Lance Armstrong, about the lies of the "leaders" of our respected nations?  Why is it that we will excuse them, but not Lance?  Why is it that we will accept their "lies" and misleading's, but not Lance's?  More importantly, why are we so quick to and so willing to forgive and forget what they did, but not Lance?

How many of them have created cancer foundations?  How many of them have helped to raise 10's of millions of dollars for cancer research?  How many of them have helped to save the lives of 1000's of people because of their foundation?  How many of them have inspired generations of people to rise above adversity, to not wallow in their circumstances, but to instead use those circumstances as the fuel for a cause?

Is Lance Armstrong's drug use, blood doping, or whatever it was, is it really worth diminishing all the good he did? 

What happens if it is uncovered that some of the decision makers and governing bodies knew of what is going on?  What kind of message does that send to children?

You can do whatever you need to do to win, as long as it is making everyone involved A LOT of money.  However, once you get to old, or once you stop winning and money runs out, those same people will brand you as a liar, a cheater, and will drag your name through the mud?

Again, I do not think what Lance did was right, but I understand why he did it.  And given the climate of the Tour de France at the time ( how many of the top 20 guys have all tested positive for some sort of performance enhancing drug at this point??) he needed to, to maintain the edge over guys who were almost naturally as good as he was, but were willing to do whatever it took to be a little better.

Honestly though at the end of the day, I am so thankful he DID take whatever he took.  It gave him the edge he needed to win.  And because he won, we loved him for it.  And because we loved him for it, we made him a celebrity and put him on a pedestal.  And from this pedestal, Lance Armstrong was able to become a champion in a different way.  He was able to create and bring about a tremendous amount of positive change to the world.

He was able to Champion a cause that has hit close to home for so many of us.  He was able to Champion Cancer Research, Treatment, and Prevention.

Had Lance not won, there would most likely be no Live Strong, there certainly would not have been the 10's of millions of dollars raised for Cancer research/treatment/prevention.  And those 1000's of people whose lives were saved as a result, maybe you are close to one of them, well they, they would all be dead.  There certainly would not have been the 100's of millions of Lance Armstrong inspired dollars pumped into local economies around the world.  People everywhere were buying bikes, going to cycling events, buying gear, etc... because they were inspired, they were inspired by a man who was given only a 40% chance of living and now was dominating one of the most challenging endurance events.

And lastly, there would not have been generations of people inspired to go out and ride a bike, or to get in shape, or volunteer at the local cancer center, or to take a stand against cancer and refuse to let it get the best of them.

Lance Armstrong is a hero that is what I think.  If we as a society are going to start making witch hunts a focal point of our existence, I think there are better places we could spend that energy (Politicians - hint hint) than destroying the people who are doing what they can to make a positive difference.

What do you think?  I really would love to read your thoughts/opinions.

Please share below, and when sharing, please be respectful of other people's thoughts/opinions.

Carpe Diem,



  1. A very thought provoking article Jesse.
    I strongly feel that even though I don't agree at all with what he did, he is very obviously being thrust into the spotlight as the sacrificial lamb to divert from any deeper probing into what everyone knows is one of the most drug riddled sports in the whole world. This issue in cycling extends far and beyond Lance Armstrong which I think is one of those unspoken truths that everyone knows but doesn't talk about.
    As for the good he's done for Cancer awareness and fund raising, he's almost like a Robin Hood. It's one of the greatest moral questions ever! Would you shun your own morals for the greater good?
    I guess it just comes down to what you as a person can live with, but it's worth remembering that having good intentions, is not the same thing as having integrity.
    The price of being in the public eye and making those kinds decisions is exactly what he's going through now.

  2. He has done plenty of GOOD for many fighting cancer. How the media can chastize him...yet other pro sports and politicians get away with much more than lying....well, therein lies the hypocracy in America. We have all lied at some point - whether a white lie or bigger...and nobody is perfect!I hope more cancer survivors step forward to champion Lance's efforts with Live Strong campaign. There are more important things in life than winning the next race. People should be more concerned about supporting everyone fighting the good fight. Cancer can still beaten.

    Lance will always be a champion in my mind for this and no other reason. The most important reason of all.

  3. I absolutely LOVE what you wrote and totally agree....It has been excruciating to watch the downfall played out in the media and I completely believe that whatever he did do, he is being punished for enough and it has hit him in the worst way, not being able to compete again on those levels. I only hope that others feel that same way and can move past it and make sure that all he worked for is not in vain. Thanks for expressing what I have been feeling....

  4. Such an interesting story: I think he is being crucified so much because he [possibly]lied about this so many times. He won a court case for defamation, he was awarded damages: not only did he lie while he took drugs, he lied through a whole court case, he presented a "holier-than-thou" face. Personal integrity is all you have at the end of the day and it appears he has none. It cannot be denied he has done great work for cancer research, but so have many other organisations and individuals. I know of many individuals who work tirelessly for fundraising, they do NO LESS than he has in that respect.

    If other riders were taking drugs and beating him in races, he should have done a tell all sit down interview with Oprah THEN and say why he was no longer winning, dob people in. The old "can't beat them so join them" mentality does not excuse anything he has done. People are crucifying him because for so long he pleaded, cried, and so STRONGLY denied any wrongdoing. And we invested in that, and stood behind him. And in the end it [possibly] was all lies, so we feel betrayed by that (even though we don't know him personally). How will we ever know if he was really good enough to win on his own merits? What sort of mentor is he to young people- if you can't win take drugs to ensure you do win because it is ALL about winning? Don't worry about personal goals or your health, WINNING is more important. Would I hold him up to my kids as a role model? Absolutely not.

    I don't know Jesse, it is such a mess! And nothing ever is black and white with us complicated humans, is it? It just seems all a big shame and a sad waste of what could have been a fantastic sporting career.


  5. I have a Dr I work with who rode professionally he said the whole pro cycling sport is full of doping if everyone on the tour was taking steroids how is it cheating?

    -Dustin M

  6. I'm not sure of how I feel about his "admitting" to doping. I'm not an athlete so I don't know what that pressure is like as to the reason of why he possibly did it. I think it's absurd to crucify this person for all he has done when there are and have been many people of celebrity status that have lied about the wrongs they have done. I don't see them in the news or their lives being torn apart. It's just sad due to the cause he was dedicated to.

  7. Thank you Jesse, you said it perfectly. L

  8. I agree with you Jesse 1000%

  9. Personally I find it shocking that you, as a life coach, can express views supporting his actions. So it is OK to cheat and lie repeatedly (and make a lot of money along the way) if you do some good thing somewhere else in your life? I don't think so.
    And justifying it through the fact that others were doing it at the same time is by far the weakest excuse ever. That's how people justify gang raping! His behaviour just disgusts me. If that's the kind of mentor and role model people want/need to bring them through cancer, God help us all.

  10. so yet another of our sporting "heros" has fallen off the pedestal we put him on and people are mad. When I heard the news, I shrugged. Not really all that surprised. Disappointed.

    Yes, I can see how anyone would be tempted - like peeping at your gifts under the Christmas tree, but once you do that when you do open your gifts much of the thrill is gone and it becomes so very disappointing. In the same way, it's hard for me to understand how he could look in the mirror and feel good about his wins. He lied to himself (and the public) about his capability and permanently and severely damaged his health while doing it. Perhaps that's what his ultimate payment will be - the damage to his health.

    So if they were all doing it, why not lobby to change the cycling rules and allow these drugs to be taken and level the playing field? Or have two sets of competitions for every sport out there... "Doped Up Baseball" "Doped up Cycling" and ones for people who are concerned for their health and would rather compete on their natural ability??? The fame and fortune Armstrong afforded himself by doping cheated others he competed against who weren't doing it. People are mad because a man who was exalted for his talents wasn't being honest about it and while perhaps his guilt at least in part, drove him to work toward cancer research it doesn't excuse that fact that he broke the rules he agreed to and then lied about it.


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  12. This is a great discussion going on here. Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts/opinions.

    If I may, I have a couple more questions...

    Do you think your view of Lance Armstrong and situation is largely influenced by the part of him you identify with the most? I.e. the celebrity, the athlete, the humanitarian?

    If you had the opportunity to save a life, to save 1000's of lives, but to do so, you would have to lie, would you?

    Lastly, with all this talk about lying, do you think it is possible that his confession may be a lie. Perhaps he is so tired of all of this that the way to make it go away is to just admit to what people already want to believe and do the time and get it over with?

    Just to be clear, I do not support his alleged use of whatever he may have used, nor do I support or endorse the alleged lying. I can however, understand the possible reasons as to why he may have done the above.

    Having said that, I am a huge fan of Lance Armstrong the humanitarian and all the good that Lance Armstrong has brought to the world over the years. And I am so thankful for all that he has done.

    When Lance was winning Tour titles and defeating cancer it was hard to find anyone who was not a fan of Lance.

    Furthermore, my role as a Life Coach is not to tell people how to live their lives or what they should and should not do. There are already way to many sources telling us what we should do and how we should live without adding me as another one.

    My role, my job, as a Life Coach is to help guide people to make their own decisions, the decisions that will be the absolute best for them and bring them the greatest amount of fulfillment in life.

    1. My view on Lance is influenced by my life views as a whole- I have really strong feelings about right and wrong. And I don't think that doing lots of "right" things in one area of your life gives you "leave" so to speak to do wrong in other areas of your life.

      Rhetorical questions about 'lying to save lives' are well and good but was Lance put in a position where in order to help 1000s with cancer he HAD to take drugs and lie about his cycling career? By his own admission, he did all the bad stuff because of his "ruthless desire to win".

      I just wonder if he would have done all the work for cancer if he hadn't have gotten it himself. Speaking from personal experience with cancer (and let's face it, it is very hard to find anyone these days who hasn't had it, or watched one of their nearest and dearest fight it) cancer lights a fire in you when you face it. And you will do anything to push for it's cure! So it's not surprising given his own struggle with it that he's done so much for the cause. And he had a public profile so he was able to use this to raise more awareness. There is no doubt he has done phenomenal work here, but that is not what is in dispute.

      Probably most people to some extent have good and bad in them, but when you do something wrong you have to be responsible for your actions, accept the consequences for it, and if you are high profile, accept that everyone is going to have an opinion. Lance did something wrong, he deserves to be punished ie stripped of titles, made to pay back the damages he was awarded for the defamation case. No-one disputes his good work for cancer, what we are concerned about is that he encouraged the portrayal of himself as a role model, an honest cyclist/elite athlete, and it was based on deliberate deception.

  13. Hey Jesse!

    Generally, everyone is entitled to their opinions. While they do not know what exactly a life coach is/does then they are at a potential to draw FALSE assumptions/conclusions...which in a fact (in this case) are just that are just FALSE! Personally, I think you are an amazing life coach! :)

    With that said, as a former member of your (life coaching) Carpe Diem Insights group, I am grateful that you chose to write about this topic because I FULLY agree with your points of view. Yes, I still respect him, regardless, for his cancer foundatation plus the lives he has saved/is saving, for the hope he gave/continues to give, etc. As a person who has dealt with the emotional rollercoaster of hardships that cancer can bring about with losing a Mom to lung cancer and currently, supporting a sister who is battling cancer...this touches close to home. So, he has always been and still is a hero to me. I'm also extremely honored that one of his relatives is following me on Twitter...shhh...please keep that between you and me. Thanks.

    In general, I don't agree with doping because I'm all about using our natural energy resources to succeed in our physical abilities. But, like you said, I do understand why he did it. I would not dope in order to improve my ability towards completing future marathons. I believe in working hard and through the pain I experience --> Dedication and absolute perserverance.

    Lastly, you just continue to "Keep moving forward with your "Awesomeness"!!! :)

    Forever grateful,

  14. Maybe more people identify with Lance Armstrong the athlete who overcame cancer to "win" seven Tour de France titles and that's why they're so mad. It created a kind of false inspiration.
    The whole "If Lance Armstrong can beat cancer and win seven Tour titles," thing that people bought into and were inspired by, was (based on the information we've been given by him) was a lie.
    He overcame a horrible disease but so do some other lucky people.
    How many people can say they beat cancer and won 7 cycling titles? That's what made him special to a lot of people.

    I wonder if Lance Armstrong had been a man that beat cancer and consistently came in third or fourth place in the Tour de France, would "Livestrong" have been as successful as it was?
    Or was it that fact that we believed that Lance Armstrong was a man who beat cancer and went on to "win" seven titles that made "Livestrong" such a beacon among hundreds if not thousands of other cancer foundations?
    If you're an impartial adult you can separate the athlete from the philanthropist and be grateful for what he's done for cancer research because we possess the analytical thinking skills to make a judgement on whether or not we personally think the "risk" is worth the "reward".
    But your average person, whether they care to admit it or not, buys into an ideal.
    They buy into a persons story.
    People bought into Lance Armstrong's overcoming cancer to become a champion story and as far as we know, and as far he's admitted, it was a lie.
    I can understand the disappointment, but I can't understand anger.
    Some perspective wouldn't go astray.
    I wish people were this irate about politics or agricultural issues.


  15. He lied. He attacked based on his lies. Being charitable does not require fame. Overcoming cancer happens a lot; when it happens it's good. We will never know what the athlete who did NOT dope could have done in this world with the notoriety. Just because everyone is doing it, doesn't condone the practice. We will never know what the human body is capable without "enhancements." Cheating is still cheating. The message sent to children and others is wrong in my humble opinion. Winning is NOT everything if you have to crush the next guy to do it, if you have to cheat to do it, if you have to lie. Lance lied to himself as well as the rest of the world. I still believe in honor and integrity. Lance had none of it. Teach integrity. don't teach winning at whatever cost. That is not true success.

  16. You seem to believe that lieing and cheating for a "good" cause is acceptable. My impression is that you do not see the "bad" that is done which is immeasurable compared to the false impression of "good" that may have been done. How many who looked up to Lance, are now dismayed? How many who looked up to Lance, now figure..."why bother?" How many are dismayed and will impact their children, their friends, their colleagues with the same "dismay?" There is NO EXCUSE for lieing and cheating. There is NO BENEFIT from it. We, as a society, are slowly decaying because of the lies, the cheats and the fraud. When will it stop? You advocate "Be the Change you wish to see in the world" --Gandhi....what we need is a promotion of INTEGRITY, TRUTH and SERVICE before self. I am more inspired by the athlete who HELPS his/her fellow athlete to achieve than the athlete who lies, steals, bad mouths and crushes his/her competition. I am more inspired by the athlete who pushes me to be better than I was through MY OWN POWER than to figure out more and more ways to "beat the system." Lance: You didn't beat a thing. You destroyed!

    1. Check your spelling next time. It should be "lying" :-)