I was on the golf course Wednesday when the "Breaking News" update came in on my phone.
Mistake number one on my part was checking my phone on the course. Mistake number two was wanting to believe Lance Armstrong back in August when he announced that he was giving up his fight against the latest wave of charges by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Like many others who watched history as Armstrong went on to win a record seven Tour de France titles, I felt sorry for the athlete we grew to love. I wanted to believe that he was telling the truth all along, but had given up on the legal war in his life.
After all, if Armstrong could fight the biggest battle of his life against cancer and win, why then could he not take on the agency who accused him of cheating?
The answer became abundantly clear on Wednesday.
As it turns out, a sports fan's worst nightmare came true. The New York Times reported, "The United States Anti-Doping Agency released details of its investigation of Lance Armstrong, calling it the most sophisticated doping program in recent sports history -- a program in which it said Armstrong played a key role by doping, supplying doping products and demanding that his top teammates dope so he could be successful."
And so the story goes. Another larger than life athlete bites the dust.
I grew up watching Lance Armstrong and his Tour de France greatness. I wasn't a fan of cycling, and I knew little about the sport. But he was compelling, a true competitor in every sense of the word, and a champion over, and over, and over again.
So now what? Armstrong's name becomes part of the ABC's of professional athletes who cheated their way to the top. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, and so on and so on. I cringe to think of who might be next.
But the sad reality is that no one wins in this awful revelation. Millions of dollars were spent by the antidoping agency, as they've been gathering evidence on Armstrong for the past several years. What if that money was donated to charity? Let's for argument sake stick with Lance. In the past 15 years, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the largest athlete-named charity in the world, has raised $480 million.
What's left? Whether you believed Lance or not, we all have to accept the grim reality of the details released on Wednesday.
Lance wasn't superhuman after all.
I do not feel sorry for Lance Armstrong anymore. Rather now, I cannot begin to imagine the pain that Armstrong's fierce competitors, who missed out on the Tour de France title after decades of training and regime, are suffering. His former teammates, who risked greatness themselves in an effort to let a bonafide champ take the prize. The children who dreamed of being Lance Armstrong one day were duped. The fans no longer care to recall the memories and images of a dominant champion clad in yellow.
And the world is once again left to wonder: Are we witnessing greatness, or simply a mirage that is neither real nor honorable?
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