No perfect story-A A +A
Saturday, January 19, 2013
AFTER a 2-year federal criminal investigation, Lance Armstrong finally admits to taking banned performance enhancers to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles.
Armstrong says that it was not humanly possible for him to achieve such a feat without doping because of the culture in cycling. While he takes great care not to implicate anyone else in his toxic tale of drugs and deceit, he implies that the practice is common in the sport.
In his interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong says he never felt like a cheat because “to cheat means to gain an advantage over a rival or foe.” In his case, he was simply leveling the playing field.
I have never been a fan of Lance Armstrong because I always suspected him of doping.
Winning seven Tour de France titles in a row was just too good to be true. And when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, I felt even more certain of his doping despite tenuous links between cancer and performance enhancing drugs.
In 1996, Armstrong at 25 was diagnosed with advanced stage testicular cancer that had metastasized to his lungs, abdomen and brain. Luckily for Armstrong, testicular cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer with at least an 80 percent survival rate.
After undergoing intense treatment, he was declared cancer-free in February 1997. In the same year, he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation (now known as Livestrong Foundation) whose mission is to inspire and empower cancer survivors and their families.
Armstrong says that it was his mantra of “winning at all costs” that led him to doping. He says that his ruthless desire to win served him well when he was riding his bike and battling his disease, but in the end, he went too far and moved up to a level that became defiant and arrogant.
I am no fan of competitive sports. I am no admirer of record-breaking titles. I see the lust for gold. And I see where it’s headed. Some athletes may compete clean but how many more dope their way to a world title?
Listening to Armstrong talk about the culture of doping in cycling is a wake-up call to everyone who desires to compete in a sport or win a title.
There is no honor in being a cheat. Yet, the reality remains that many athletes today don’t consider doping, cheating. Like Armstrong, they also believe they are simply leveling the playing field.
The pathology of normalcy strikes again. Just because everyone cheats doesn’t make cheating right.
If we have to go to such great lengths to test athletes for doping, why hold competitions, at all? At the end of the day, the real winners are those who don’t compete for trophies or titles. Those who ride or run simply because they must are the real winners. That’s why I reserve my admiration for those who compete only with themselves to set new personal records.
Somehow, in the quest to be first or best, we forget the entire point of why we want to win. There is no honor in being a cheat. And Lance Armstrong, the world-renowned hero and humanitarian brings home this important message to us all.
There is no perfect athlete. No perfect hero. No perfect story.
(Email: firstname.lastname@example.org/ Twitter: http://twitter.com/melanietlim)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 20, 2013.