Column: Armstrong stripped of titles and dignity

Casey Delich

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Lance Armstrong has seemingly always received scrutiny but the UCI’s decision was well deserved. Courtesy of MCT

America holds its sports heroes in such regard that not only should they be elite, unrivaled athletes compared to that of the general population, they should also be role models seen as good people.  Over the years we have seen multitudes of athletes suffer through personal problems, alcohol problems and recently a rash of steroid-related problems.

The one person who inspired a nation, if not a world, with his comeback from testicular cancer and won seven Tour de France titles just completed his fall from grace.

Monday morning, the International Cycling Union stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven wins and banned him from cycling for life. This is the end result of what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency called “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

Does Armstrong deserve a lifetime ban, the abandonment of his sponsors and the stripping of his titles for these actions?

His actions and lack of remorse he has shown towards his fellow competitors and the sport he loved, is deserving of a lifetime ban.  Even if he admitted that he took steroids at a later point, how can anyone ever trust that he would not do it again.  He seems almost aloof to his situation and blaming everyone else around him for his problems, including blaming an organization that wants to see his fall from grace when he is the one who injected himself and others.

Unfortunately we in the United States can’t relate much to Armstrong’s predicament. In American major league sports, while there are accusations of doping, and in many cases proof of it, players are not stripped of records or titles.. Alex Rodriguez will not be stripped of his place in the all-time home run list after admitting he used steroids, so why should Lance Armstrong?

Because the International Cycling Union isn’t American sports, it is a global organization that holds itself to strict Olympic standards.

Since the 2000 Summer Olympics, there has been dozens of athletes, including Marion Jones and Tyler Hamilton of the United States, who were stripped of their medals and banned from their respective sports.

The competitive advantage that steroids give to athletes is something that varies from person to person, some never attaining what they hoped for while others go above and beyond it.  Lance Armstrong knowingly cheated and knowingly injected his body with a substance that gave him a competitive edge over the athletes he competed against.

The integrity of sports is something that is no longer upheld in many professional ranks today. The admission or evidence of an act trying to gain an illegal advantage should be dealt with swiftly and harshly.

Thousands of kids and teenagers around the country see the actions of these adults and see the adoration and money they receive, so what kind of message would America be sending to them if cheaters could prosper?

The USADA completed an extensive investigation into Armstrong, including confessions from 15 fellow riders, that left no governing body, and even Armstrong himself, with any counter-argument.

In late August, Armstrong dropped his appeal of the doping allegations centered at him.

Was this an admission of guilt, knowing he would be unable to overturn damning evidence?

His lack of fight to these charges seem to be his admission, throwing in the towel on what his attorney, Tim Herman, called “an unconditional witch hunt” and was “one-sided and unfair.”

Armstrong has done many things for cancer patients and the human spirit through his charity, Livestrong, but these acts for the good of humanity can’t erase the mistakes he has made in cycling.  Armstrong’s name didn’t help Livestrong become what it is today. The message that it spreads made it ever-so-popular.

Our heroes need to no longer be sports stars because they are human and make mistakes, whether in their personal or professional lives. Too many times they show the bad side of humanity in the actions that they take. Lance Armstrong is just the latest in the long line that preceded him, and he will not be the last.