Lance Armstrong is not the first award-winning professional athlete to be faced with accusations of lying, cheating and being forced to surrender prestigious titles and awards. But unlike those that have fallen before him, Lance Armstrong is a universal athlete, renowned around the globe for successfully battling testicular cancer and achieving the impossible in the face of such tragedy – winning seven Tour de France titles.
His reactions as the truth emerges are making his fall from grace not only very public, but more of a slow, painful tumble down a jagged slope, rather than a quick plunge to rock bottom. This becomes evident as discussions light up across various media channels recalling the details of his interview with the queen of daytime TV, Oprah Winfrey. The consensus seems to be that Armstrong is anything but remorseful.
When asked if he thought he was a cheater and does he feel ashamed or if he feels any guilt, the answer came back each time as a stealthy, “No.” He even admitted to Oprah that he did not feel that it was possible to win seven Tour de France titles without doping.
His body language suggested he was uneasy, as Oprah drilled him with hard-hitting no-nonsense questions. Over and over you see Armstrong bite his lip and cover his mouth with his hands. Some experts report that by the end of the interview, Armstrong had bitten his lip so many times that his mouth was red implying that most of the interview he held himself back from revealing a more comprehensive truth. But, if told the world more, would it really make any difference?
He did it. He lied about it. He doesn't seem to regret it.
Nationally syndicated morning radio show host, Kidd Kraddick said, “There is only one question we need to ask ourselves about this situation. Is Lance Armstrong a bad guy, who did a lot of good [with his charity]? Or, is Lance Armstrong a good guy, who did a bad thing?”
The human desire to assign inherently good or inherently bad to a person is strong. When someone, like Lance Armstrong, who has done so much good, does something so bad, it pulls at the heart strings and forces a moral dilemma upon millions of people.
Although it is horribly tragic that this once revered “hero” of performance cycling has been stripped of his titles and awards, the greatest tragedy is the loss his efforts for cancer research may suffer. Fortunately, for now, his charity remains unscathed by his actions.
CNN.com reported that many fundraising parties for the Lance Armstrong Foundation have asked for their money back - unsuccessfully. Although Armstrong lied and cheated his way across the finish line seven times, the work for his charity seems to be and remain honest.
Livestrong spokeswoman, Katherine McLane, told CNN.com that 82 percent of all funds raised are devoted to the services and programs that benefit cancer survivors and their families. And, for now, the charity is thriving. CNN.com reported that donations and sales of merchandise have substantially increased over the last three days.
Cancer survivors, like Bob Kile of Kent, Washington, who saw Lance Armstrong as a sort of knight in shining armor, embraced a very personal connection to Armstrong’s story and rise from the ashes. He and many others say that they will continue to wear their yellow Livestrong bracelets and support him through these difficult times. Kile told CNN.com, “If Lance doped, that certainly takes away from his athletic wins. However, to survive what he did and come back at all, is impressive. To come back and create good like he did with Livestrong is even better.”