Seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will be stripped of all his victories since 1998 including his seven Tour de France victories. This after Armstrong decided to stop fighting allegations of doping, brought by the US Anti Doping Agency. There will be a lot of back and forth in the next few months about what his refusal to accept arbitration means, and the impact on cycling.
Sometime in this last year, I stopped caring about Armstrong doping or not doping. I stopped caring about the constant back and forth. When USADA announced during the Tour de France that they were going to pursue charges against Armstrong, that was the final straw. I quit following the story. It no longer mattered to me.
It’s a similar story with most sports doping at this point in time. The practice is so common, I’ve just stopped caring about it. When they go to strip Armstrong’s Tour titles, they will go to the second place finisher. In all but 2 cases, that finisher is an admitted doper. The technicality of erasing the records from the books won’t change the impact of those races. Lance Armstrong crossed the line first. Every time he did it, he made me believe in impossible things.
That belief has allowed me to push forward in my own life. No matter what Armstrong did or didn’t do, his impact on my life can’t be measured by his wins. Stripping him of his titles doesn’t eliminate a second of the joy I got watching him pedal up the French Alps.
It doesn’t erase the memory of “The Look”, a moment where Armstrong looked into the eyes of fellow rider Jan Ulrich and decided Ulrich had nothing left.
It doesn’t change the energy that moment gave me, the desire it sparked in me to keep pushing myself forward, no matter how hard it was.
It doesn’t change the impact his words had on me as I fought to get in shape and take control of my life.
It doesn’t take away the power of the moment of victory.
I’m not a cancer survivor, but Armstrong’s words and actions have impacted me just as deeply. I’m eternally grateful for that. He’s not perfect. Then again, I’m not either