After months of bad press, the greatest competitive cyclist of all time has officially hit rock bottom: The Lance Armstrong Foundation has dropped the name of its eponymous creator and will now be known as the Livestrong Foundation. Rest easy, Lance, it can’t get much – or is that any? – worse.
His story is unparalleled, Shakespearean in scope and breadth. A cocky, gum-flapping athlete battled insurmountable odds after a devastating cancer diagnosis, his greasy soul barely slipping the surly clutches of a certain dirt nap. Ultimately, he rehabilitated his battered body and morphed into a champion.
Not only did Lance Armstrong improbably return to the sport he loved, professional cycling, he used his unfailing narrative as a stick and beat to death his opponents by winning the most grueling sporting event on the planet of earth: The Tour De France. Seven motherloving times!
He must have had help, right? I mean, you can’t just win the Tour that many times without some aid and angels. Could all the old ladies’ prayers and good wishes really have propelled this flesh rocket up the Pyrenees and down the Alps? If they could, Robert Urich would have more Olympic medals than Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz combined. But he doesn’t. Because he’s dead. Sorry, grandma.
As much as everyone wanted to believe Lance’s performance was the result of clean living and hard training, there were whispers for years that he was dirtier than a bum’s ass. The French cycling daily L’Equipepublished a long story in August 2005 accusing him of failing a 1999 drug test by using EPO, or erythropoietin, a blood booster commonly used by cyclists to aid in red blood-cell production. The French said he was a habitual doper who had enough money and support to insulate himself from the rules that sought to protect the sport from enhanced athletes who posed an unfair advantage to non-tainted riders. Lance said he didn’t trust the French testing system, probably because they detected those pesky drugs.
When Armstrong gave up the fight in August 2012 against the U.S. Anti Doping Agency (USADA), people’s love turned to sheer outrage and they took his declaration to fight the charges no more forever as an act of personal betrayal. How could cancer boy have put something in his pure body to get him up those hills faster, to knock over those time trials like Southern damsels fainting from the vapors?
But as backlash gripped Lance fans, there was a deeper question more important than simple outrage: Why are people so mad at Lance Armstrong when logic should have told them the guy was doing nothing short of spiking his veins, spinning his blood, and biting off chicken heads to achieve his inhuman feats?