For over a decade now it seems as if a new athlete is found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs each month. Millions and millions of our hard earned tax dollars have gone into investigations by our Government to bring these cheaters to justice. Apparently when our favorite athlete tests positive we as sports fans are supposed to be shocked, *Oh I can’t believe they would do that*. That may have been the case about 10 years ago, but now we are just kind of getting used to it. Accepting it as if its the norm, kind of like *Manny Being Manny*. In my honest opinions there are 3 types of performance enhancing drug user in sports today.
1. The Ego – Driven by the need to be the best. The athlete that wants all the spot light, national media attention, and all the fame that comes with it.
2. The Cash Grabber – The player in the last year of his existing contract, and looking for the as Cuba Gooding Jr. said in Jerry McGuire *The Quan* The bigger the stats, the bigger the payday from his current team, or when he hits free agency.
3. The Healer – Players who use drugs to heal faster, or at least thats what they would like you to believe.
For whatever reason a player decides to use performance enhancing drugs, the end of the story is always the same. There is no such thing has *happily ever after* when players decide to journey down the path of wrong. Stop me if you have heard this story. Athlete X took performance enhancing drugs, and they all lived happily every after. Whats that? You’ve never heard that story before? Well thats because it doesn’t exist my friends.
The news of Lance Armstrong using performance enhancing drugs, is so 5 years ago. I mean lets face it, Armstrong has been linked to performance enhancing drugs for just about his entire career. His performance enhancing drug use isn’t even what has sparked this post which will send the internet into a whirl wind. Not because of its subject matter, because lets face it, this isn’t the first post I’ve ever written about about performance enhancing drugs. It will be turned upside down, because I drug my ass out of retirement to write it.
Now before I go any further let me just throw this disclaimer out there. I do not condone the use of performance enhancing drugs in any sport. I am one of the few people left in America that actually still would prefer my sports to be clean. Since those days are long gone, I will not be foolish enough to think they will ever return. No matter how much testing they try to put in place. There will always be a scientist in a lab somewhere trying to stay one step ahead of the testing program. Unfortunately this case is just a little bit different.
Lance Armstrong started LiveStrong to help cancer patients. He didn’t decide one day to go to LiveStrong, say *Hey I love your work* and become a spokesperson, he started the foundation. Since the foundation opened, it has raised over $500 million dollars for cancer research, and other various things. Let’s put that in perspective, that is half a BILLION dollars. Today Armstrong stepped down as the chairman of LiveStrong, and I have to say in this case one should have nothing to do with the other. His now tainted cycling career should have nothing to do with the worth while cause he and his foundation fight for each and every day. While I understand why he did it, I can’t say I agree with his decision. Lance Armstrong was never a hero for his ability to ride a bike. He was a hero for not only starting a foundation that is looking for a cure that effects 1 in 7 people either directly, or indirectly. Regardless of the fact if he is the chairman or he sits on the board, he will always be the face of LiveStrong.
Also coming on the same day as Armstrong stepping down, Nike drops him as a sponsor. In a statement released by Nike they ramble on about not condoning the use of performance enhancing drugs, blah, blah, blah. Apparently repeated extra marital affairs, and crimes against animals is something they do condone at Nike, as Tiger Woods and Michael Vick still have endorsement deals with Nike. Of course when Woods and Vicks scandals unfolded, they dropped them like yesterdays garbage too. They would later resign them. Vick was resigned shortly after he started winning again on Sundays. America loves come back story, as long as performance enhancing drugs aren’t involved. Nike resigning Vick and Woods tell me they are only concerned with the all mighty dollar, and not with their image. So why drop Lance Armstrong? He doesn’t have 11 kids by 11 different women. He has never been in trouble with the law, well til now. The only thing he has been guilty of is falling under the category of the Ego driven performance enhancing drug user. It is also being reported that Oakley, Anheuser Busch, Trek, and FRS ( an energy drink) company will also end their endorsement deals with Armstrong. Radio Shack however will still remain supporters of the LiveStrong foundation.
People are going to judge Lance Armstrong in the court of public opinion, and there is nothing anyone can do about that. Armstrong made some poor decisions in his cycling career, there is no doubt about that. The work that he has done for cancer patients through the efforts of his LiveStrong foundation should not be dismissed. My father in law is a cancer survivor and I have found myself wondering if the money raised for research by LiveStrong in some small way saved his life. As I said I do not condone what Armstrong did in his cycling career, but I’m smart enough to seperate that, from his foundation.
We as sports fan at some point must stop putting these athletes up on pedestals, and realize that they are human. They make mistakes just like each and every one of us. I won’t say that if he had to do it all over again, he would have chosen differently. He could have been in the mind frame of a teenager, thinking he would never get caught. I would only hope that moving forward, he has learned to make smarter decisions.