The last word you would think of to describe Lance Armstrong is “quitter.”
He fought and eventually overcame testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain.
He beat the 40% odds of survival his doctor gave him after surgery to remove the testicular cancer.
After chemotherapy and surgery, Armstrong went on to win the Tour de France seven consecutive times, breaking the previous record of five wins (which had been a four-way tie between by Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx, and Jacques Anquetil).
However, Lance Armstrong has decided to end his battle against the United States Anti-Doping Agency. He’s quit the fight.
The USADA has charged him with doping and now that Armstrong’s fight has ended, the agency is going to strip him of his seven Tour de France titles and give him a lifetime ban from cycling.
While I am not convinced that the USADA has all of the evidence necessary to make such accusations and punish Lance Armstrong so harshly, I understand why he is giving up on his case and moving on with his life.
In a statement released on August 23rd, Armstrong said the following:
”There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today — finished with this nonsense.”
He went on to call the USADA’s investigation of him an “unconstitutional witch hunt.”
Some will call his statements and decision to stop fighting the doping charges as an admission of guilt. Even if it is, which there is still inconclusive evidence to prove, the aftermath of his decision will not ruin Lance Armstrong.
Lance Armstrong is bigger than cycling and will largely be remembered for his contributions to society beyond his bike.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation has raised over $470 million to “support our mission to inspire and empower people affected by cancer,” according to the foundation’s website. He is and has been a beacon of hope and inspiration for those with cancer.
ESPN sportswriter Rick Reilly tweeted today about how he has sat with Lance Armstrong as he “answers emails from strangers w/ cancer diagnosis. Fills them w/ advice + hope. Does it every day for an hour.”
The “Livestrong” bracelets alone have raised over $325 million for cancer research.
The life’s work is mind-boggling:
- Armstrong was a world-class athlete, not only in cycling, but also running and swimming.
- He overcame life-threatening cancer.
- He won the Tour de France seven consecutive times and has won several Ironman competitions.
- He has devoted his life to helping others defeat the disease the put him through chemotherapy, surgeries, and left him knocking on death’s door.
- And he has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
The USADA may have banned him from cycling and stripped him of his Tour de France titles, but Lance Armstrong has compiled a lifetime of impressive feats, including serving others by helping them through cancer.
And he will continue to do so for as long as he is able…whether he is “officially” a Tour de France champion or not.