– Lance Armstrong has fallen from grace after achieving and contributing. One wonders, why? I know I do.
“Great ambition and conquest are insignificant if not accompanied by contribution” is a famous line from the movie, The Emperor’s Club. They are wonderful words, words that are a good guide to living one’s life. However, as all good curmudgeons know, these great words of advice must be based on one essential foundation.
Integrity. Yes, integrity. And, Lance Armstrong had none, absolutely none.
Integrity is the strict adherence to a code of conduct that is moral and truthful. Lance Armstrong failed this litmus test. He failed his sport, his country, his friends, his family, and most of all himself.
Where were the seeds of this lack of integrity sown? Some could say it was a tumultuous childhood, filled with a divorce at an early age, or the fact that Lance’s mother’s new husband adopted Lance at the age of three. For unknown reasons, Lance stubbornly refused meeting with his birth father most of his life. Was this an early sign of no integrity?
According to some sources, Armstrong has had a tumultuous personal life, married for the first time in 1998, had three children, divorced in 2003, married again in 2005 to Sheryl Crow, divorced her in 2006, and then in 2008 started dating Anna Hansen with whom he has had five more children. Wow, certainly got prolific for a guy with testicular cancer.
Lance starting competitive sports very young, age thirteen to be exact, and by age 19 was a successful triathlete. The year was 1989.
By 1992, Armstrong had joined the Motorola Cycling Team and in 1993 he won 10 one-day events. It was a big step forward for him in the world of cycling, and in life.
The Tour de France cycling race is an event held every year in the month of July mainly in France. It consists of several stages, about 20 -21 stages normally. Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France stage in the stage from Chalon-sur-Marne to Verdun in 1993. He was to win many more victories and by 1996 Lance signed a $2 million dollar contract with the French cycling team Cofidis.
But fate stepped in with a severe blow—cancer. He had testicular cancer to be exact in stage three. By the time he returned home to Austin, Texas, the cancer had spread to his lungs and brain. He received surgery and chemotherapy which basically saved his life. By February of 1997, Lance was declared cancer-free, but by this time his French cycling team contract had been cancelled.
Lance resumed his cycling training and was asked to join the U.S. Postal Cycling Team for $200,000 a year. By 1999, he was fully recovered from his bout with cancer and won his first of seven Tour de France competitions. He certainly seemed like a gifted athlete that had conquered cancer and fulfilled his ambition in cycling.
He even started a non-profit organization to benefit cancer victims, a great contribution.
Actually, during most of Armstrong’s career there had been persistent allegations of doping. His peers that were his team mates and who competed with him, plus reporters of the sport of cycling, all made charges that Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs.
It wasn’t until this year that Armstrong finally admitted that he did use drugs to enhance his performance. Why did he finally admit his guilt?
The guy’s actions are self-serving—he wants to get back into cycling after being suspended from cycling for life.
He’s admitting to doing something wrong because he’s trying to redeem himself. He’s doing it because he wants to cycle, to keep his brand and to make more money. It’s about greed and selfishness.
Lance Armstrong has not an ounce of integrity.
As a curmudgeon, I can’t condone nor forgive this Armstrong character. He lied, cheated, and discredited his sport, country, family and himself. Even his cancer non-profit, The Lance Armstrong Foundation has distance itself from this creep. I say throw the bum out with the bathwater.
And, Oprah, you would do well to keep clear of mud-slinging as you might get some on yourself and Lance wouldn’t care as long as it helped him.
(Larry Momo writes columns for the Washington Times Community Section and the San Pedro News Pilot.)