Over the past few weeks, Lance Armstrong has joined the infamous group of evil, selfish people such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and every athlete that came out of East Germany, who abused our trust and cheated to get a competitive advantage in the world of sports.
The International Cycling Union was right in stripping him of his seven Tour de France titles and Armstrong is an embarrassment to the country, a poor role model for our youth and should be exiled to an island populated by steroid-enraged badgers. Yada yada yada.
Shut up. All of you.
I’m sick and tired of listening to people spout off about how this tarnishes everything Armstrong has ever done and ruins his legacy. It doesn’t.
Even though his trophy room at home now has significantly more room for activities, the decade of his dominance — and more importantly, what he did with it — is something that can’t be taken away from him, or anyone who remembers it.
First off, the idea of vacating any trophy is a dumb premise. How can you tell me that something never happened when I witnessed it with my own two eyes? Regardless of sport, you can’t undo the past, no matter how hard you try.
We all witnessed Armstrong win those titles. We remember the great story behind his return from cancer and how it inspired us.
None of that will ever change.
Sure, the story’s ending isn’t quite as extraordinary, but this wasn’t written by Walt Disney. Grow up Peter Pan; this is what happens in the real world.
He still came back from testicular cancer to compete in one of the most grueling athletic endeavors in sports. That would have been one hell of a story by itself. And if he hadn’t blood-doped, I bet you he still would have been one of the best.
My favorite part of the story? He found a way to use cycling — a sport Americans would probably choose to watch CSPAN over — and used it to enrage the French.
This isn’t baseball or football, where we act like the integrity of the game is ingrained in our society’s moral fabric; it’s on the same level as tetherball.
Because of Armstrong, Americans got to thumb their noses at a country we love to taunt and say, “See? We could dominate your silly race if we wanted to, but who would want to do that when the sports we invented are so much better?”
It was an unlimited supply of ammo for every ugly American, and boy did we milk it.
Their confusion as to how he was so much better than them made it all the better. At one point, there were people trying to suggest that him having one testicle was a competitive advantage because it made him more aerodynamic.
That seriously happened.
But jokes about mocking the French aside, I’ll give you one real reason why none of his cheating matters — in fact, I’ll give you 470 million reasons.
In 1997, Armstrong founded Livestrong, his foundation which forever changed how people raised money for research and has raised $470 million since its inception.
Livestrong made donating money more than something to do for charity; it made it cool.
I bet every single person reading this had one of its yellow arm bands, and I bet most of you had about a dozen others comprising every color of the rainbow, with each representing a different cause that realized it could raise money the same way.
We’ve all cheated before — whether it be on a test, or homework or in Monopoly because the game has been going on for five hours and as the banker, you hold the power to end everyone’s pain — but how many can say that it positively impacted anyone but themselves?
I know Armstrong didn’t cheat to raise money — he did it to win — but at some point, the ends justify the means. Simply put, the world is a better place because he cheated.
And while I’m not necessarily saying the “everybody’s doing it defense” is a good one, it is notable that Armstrong’s only two adversaries, Jan Ulrich and Alberto Contador, have also been banned for life. They all cheated … he was just the best at it.
If Pat McQuaid, president of the cycling union (an organization that I’m sure has far more power than it should), really wants Armstrong to be “forgotten in cycling,” that’s fine.
I’ll just go back to forgetting the Tour de France exists. Come to think of it, I already have.