The biggest crush to sports history finally comes full circle — Lance Armstrong admits that he used performance enhancing drugs to win his 7 Tour de France titles. Never before in the history of Tour de France has the maillot jaune or yellow jersey been smeared by deceit of such proportions. Following rumors of doping and failed attempts by officials to prove Armstrong’s transgression, irrefutable evidence finally revealed the truth in a 1,000-page report released by the US Anti-Doping Agency in October 2012. The report included testimony from almost a dozen former teammates. Armstrong was tripped of his Tour de France titles, and more recently, his bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the cancer survivor and former Tour de France champion answered yes when asked about taking banned substances, EPO, testosterone, cortisone, human growth hormone, and performing blood-doping. Armstrong states, “I am a flawed character.” Though there was no denying the truth contained in the reports, it was still jarring to hear admission from the sports icon. Lance Armstrong had long been the symbol of the human spirit’s triumph over adversity when he won 7 Tour de France titles after surviving metastatic testicular cancer. Prior to the scandal, Lance Armstrong gave cancer patients faith that miracles do happen. He was more than just a sports champion. Lance Armstrong was a champion of life. Until now.
According to Armstrong, he considered doping as part of the game, a way to gain advantage over other opponents without even the thought that it was cheating. After innumerable denials over the years, which included a $500,000 judgment awarded to him for suing a newspaper for libel, it was hard to develop any kind of sympathy for a man who deceived the world by pretending to be a hero.
While the world watches the drama as it unfolds, many are hoping that Lance Armstrong will eventually divulge the whole truth to lend the sport at least its last ounce of dignity. Can the Tour de France ever reclaim the reverence and stature that it had prior to the scandal? But we can only hope that it will not stop the world from believing that true heroes and champions are still real. It is likely that most of them just don’t feel the need to secure multi-million dollar endorsements and prefer peace and obscurity over fame.