Today, Lance Armstrong – without doubt, one of the world’s most famous pro cyclists – was permanently banned from his profession, as well as having his Tour De France titles taken away from him. And all because Armstrong may have used performance-enhancing drugs throughout most of his sports career that led to his Tour De France victories.
It’s true that performance-enhancing drugs in sports – including the professional type – end up doing more harm than good, including causing serious and permanent (not to mention sometimes fatal) health issues for those athletes who take them, not only forcing them to regret that decisions as their physical health declines, but also face the shame and humiliation that’s more or less associated with being a fallen idol (and not just in sports). Whether or not Lance Armstrong will be truly remembered a century or more after what happened yesterday will no doubt depend on several things – including the possibility of new information that vindicates not only Armstrong and his career, but also his overall legacy.
Of course, when the Union Cycliste Internationale made the decision to ban Armstrong from pro cycling for good as well as strip him of his Tour De Force titles, they were also sending a message to other pro cyclists, warning them of what might happen to them should they ever use performance-enhancing drugs to “help” their careers – and a powerful one, at that. But there’s a downside to the UCI sending that same message to all pro cyclists – namely, the fact that a good number of them will no doubt ignore it and risk everything for sports glory. Also, the UCI should also realize that the problem of performance-enhancing drugs affecting sports (including cycling) won’t go away quickly – just like the problem of criminals and the mentally-unbalanced illegally obtaining firearms to commit senseless acts of violence simply for the hell of it. And while permanently stopping the illegal suppliers of performance-enhancing drugs worldwide will be one step closer to eliminating the substances’ negative influence on sports – there’s still other problems that the sports world has to deal with, including the illegal narcotics that can not only end many athletes’ careers, but also their lives.
Only time will tell if the UCI’s decision was fair and just. But the UCI should also remember that sometimes even a fair and just decision can cast a long shadow over the reputation of a single sport, including cycling – as well as bring about possible consequences that could damage and destroy its reputation. As for Lance Armstrong, he now faces an uncertain future – with only troubled thoughts of what it might have been, while stuck with memories of a controversy that’ll haunt him for the rest of his life. But Armstrong’s personal and professional anguish is nothing compared to that suffered by his millions of fans, still shocked by what happened to him – and perhaps uncertain about whether or not to still idolize both the man and his profession.
John Lavernoich is the author of the novels Code Name: Chameleons and Chameleons To The Rescue, as well as various non-fiction articles and short stories that have been published in print and on the Internet — to learn more about Mr. Lavernoich and his writing achievements, please visit his official website (http://johnlavernoich.sharepoint.com), as well as his pages on Windows Live Spaces (http://cid-ef88d131988ab38f.profile.live.com), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/john.lavernoich?ref=name), MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/jlavernoich), Twitter (http://twitter.com/JLav65), and WordPress (https://johnlav.wordpress.com). Mr. Lavernoich also maintains his own video channel on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/JLav65?feature=mhsn) as well as his own Author Spotlight page on Lulu Books‘ website (http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Highroad).
©2012 John Lavernoich.