Fall of Armstrong

A disturbing chain of events unfolded in the last few weeks that saw one of the biggest sporting icons getting thrown into history’s waste bin. Till the recent past, Lance Armstrong was a synonym of fightback, willpower and human endurance, having survived a bitter battle against cancer to win seven successive Tour de France titles. The Armstrong story has been nothing short of extraordinary, a motivational tale that stood as a lighthouse to cancer patients and sportsmen all over the world. After his retirement from cycling, Armstrong continued to inspire millions through his stirring two autobiographies—Every Second Counts and It’s Not About The Bike—and charity works through the Lance Armstrong Foundation—it was meticulous creation of the Brand Armstrong.

But the man who fought some memorable battles in the rough terrains of France, finally succumbed to the relentless pressure and clear-as-sunlight evidences presented by the USADA, the American anti-doping agency. They shed light on the dark world of drugs and top-level athletes who resort to illegal means in pursuit of victory, and there was no darker figure than Armstrong. There were stories—real life rather than fictional—of how the American cheated the system, forced his team-mates to follow his path, and acted as a merciless mafia chieftain while presenting a suave face to the world. There were also testimonials against him by his team-mates that shut the final door of defence on Armstrong, prompting him to declare complete withdrawal from his years-long fight with the USADA and step down from helm of his charity foundation.

The sporting world is yet to come in to terms with the fall of Armstrong, with his metamorphosis from an inspirational figure to a loathsome habitual drug-offender. Now, millions have realised with pain that those ennobling words written in his books are nothing but a heap of baloney by a liar, who used every loopholes in the system—sporting and medicine—to create the aura of a champion around him from 1996 to 2002. Now, he no longer has seven Tour de France titles, and his best in the world’s most gruelling cycling event will remain a paltry 36th achieved in 1995. Sadly, Armstrong doesn’t even deserve the sympathy that often a fallen idol receives because he was in full know of what was happening around him, reducing him to be just a cheat.

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