There are a couple of reasons as to why now, it would’ve been smarter for Armstrong to admit to doping. When looking at who Armstrong is as a name and being one the most vastly marketed athletes worldwide, there are countless issues that play into his current state of affairs. There are three arguments here, one he didn’t dope, two he doped, three he is a non-doping super athlete that beat his fellow doping cyclists in the Tour De France. Now that this USADA report is out in the open, we all understand somewhat what went on behind the scenes with the US Postal Service Team during the Tour. Looking at the team and the actuality that yes they are all throwing their teammate under the bus (Armstrong), one has to consider they are also throwing themselves under the bus as well. There are stringent penalties for admitting to doping and the USADA is sparing no expense in doling out the punishments.
Armstrong, a Testicular Cancer survivor and 7-time Tour De France winner, is universally the “world’s” athlete and sport hero. He has enthused people around the world, Cancer survivors, cyclists, non-cyclists, friends and families of Cancer survivors, aspiring athletes, and anyone who heard his story as extraordinary and inspirational. By creating the Livestrong foundation, Armstrong amplified Cancer awareness and research globally and locally. The yellow bracelets donned by individuals who support the Livestrong foundation at one time were a thing of pride that they were a part of something bigger. It was a way for people to give back to the community in some form or fashion and support Cancer survivors or not. The next thing you knew, yellow was the theme for everything Livestrong-Armstrong-Tour De France-Cycling, and quickly became the color associated with strength, courage and unbelievable feats conquered…Livestrong…Live long.
After the derisive 200 page report came out against Armstrong, Nike his long time sponsor said they would stand beside Armstrong, but as the truth began to unfold and unravel, days later, Armstrong’s sponsors started dropping like flies. Nike retracted their statements, and adamantly pulled sponsorship, and stated that Armstrong “misled Nike for more than a decade” followed by Radio Shack, TREK, Anheuser-Busch Inc., 24 Hour Fitness, GIRO and Honey Stinger. All within hours of Armstrong, stepping down as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation. Very rapidly the incredible and miraculous world of Lance Armstrong came plummeting down. Grumblings about sponsors wanting to come after Armstrong for their millions of dollars in sponsorship money have become louder and louder. While sponsors such as Oakley, Health Tech and Nissan are still standing by Armstrong amid the allegations waiting for a reaction from the UCI, (Union Cycliste Internationale). Even though the events revealed in the report are so scathing and insanely incriminating against Armstrong, the 7 time TDF winner still maintains his innocence. While the rest of the world wonders why?
In these situations when the evidence is so undeniable and teammates and cohorts are admitting to their own wrong doings while tagging Armstrong as the linchpin inciter, one has to speculate why doesn’t he just come clean? I mean in all fairness he lost most of his sponsorship money, his clout in the cycling community, his 7 yellow jerseys and his foundation. From a marketing standpoint and a personal standpoint, quite honestly by coming clean, Armstrong might just have a chance to regain credibility within the community and start over. But when Claims from the Armstrong camp that he has been tested over 600 times and have now been deemed inaccurate as the report states he was tested a little over 160 times throughout his career the sincerity of Lance Armstrong becomes less and less. Teammates naming his as a “bully”, one who would stop at nothing to win, coerced his teammates into a doping regiment for them to strictly follow, and if they didn’t they were out of the club so to speak. The blood doping, the untested EPO, the testosterone/olive oil cocktail, the millions of dollars and email exchanges with Dr. Ferrari (the brains behind the scam), the 26+ affidavits from key witnesses including his teammates, all point the finger towards Armstrong’s guilt. Had he admitted to his wrong doing it is quite possible sponsors would eventually come back and give him a second go round, because the appeal of Armstrong is that strong and that favorable. In addition to the wounding account against him, just the sheer fact that he was disinclined to fight for his name, his titles, his achievements, his Olympic medal, makes him appear even guiltier than what the report could ever argue. I mean why not fight?! It’s not like this guy has been living under a rock and sitting in dark lit courtrooms fighting and just can’t take it anymore. He’s been living the high life, he’s a celebrity, dating famous musicians hanging out with high profile actors, appearing in TV ads for some of the largest most reputable companies in the business. So he has a conversation with his family and decides to not fight anymore? Really? This is the guy that beat Testicular Cancer, a Cancer that spread to his brain and lungs and won, yet the fight for his name is not worth the blood, sweat and tears he used to beat his own sickness and go on to win the Tour De France 7 times? Instead he is going to lose it all, he will more than likely lose his seven titles, will probably lose his bronze medal, all his sponsorship money, his credibility in the cycling community and his respect from his fans and supporters worldwide. Instead he is going to be labeled as a cheating, yellow bellied bully who scammed the world, and even though he might not have been alone, and everyone was doing it, it doesn’t matter, because he is the one that hasn’t come clean. We all watched him win those 7 tours and sat in disbelief, this guy who fought Cancer and won, and now we are going to sit and watch it all be taken away, without a fight, without a word…all I can say is what a damn shame!
When compared to other high profile individuals such as Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones an Olympic Gold Athlete at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when investigated by the USADA because of allegations of using EPO lied under oath and testified that she did not dope. Only later admitting her own guilt, forfeited her medals and spent 6 months in jail and “accepted a two-year suspension from track and field competition issued by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, and announced her retirement from track and field on October 5, 2007. She broke down in tears during the press conference as she tearfully apologized, saying “…with a great amount of shame…I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust…and you have the right to be angry with me… I have let my country down and I have let myself down.” ” Trust me, as disappointed as individuals were about Marion Jones, I think overall, people can heal and tried to understand as they regained respect for her having the courage to admit to what she did wrong. It doesn’t make it right what any of these people did, but it certainly helps the people who admired, respected and supported them to understand the other side of things. Now, everything that Armstrong stood for, is about to evaporate. All the people that believed in him around the world and back now have an awful taste in their mouth and honestly I don’t blame them for not wanting to believe in him. Even if the USADA is wrong and this report is completely contrived, at the very least, Armstrong owes the public the truth. The universal incredible athlete, who fought Testicular Cancer and won, gave up the fight for his own name and titles and ultimately turned his back on everyone. It’s sad to think that someone that has inspired so many, could so quickly fall from grace and show us all how much of a fighter he never was. If he was pressured into this, if he wasn’t the ring leader, then just say so. Even if everyone was doing it, (doping) at that time, then so be it, he was the better athlete but at least admit that you were doing what everyone else was doing and clear your name. There is a certain amount of time for someone to admit their wrongdoing, after that time is expired, everyone moves on, disappointed, but they move on but things will never be the same for the sport, the fans and the athletes that deceived us all.
*Since this blog was published, Armstrong has since been stripped of his 7 TDF Titles, the UCI did not appeal the USADA Report regarding the doping allegations against Armstrong. They are still considering demanding the reward money for the 7 Tour Titles Armstrong fraudulently claimed. In addition to this, Oakley has pulled sponsorship from Armstrong, following the UCI’s support of the USADA Doping Report.