25/10/12 Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong has always been my hero. I love cycling especially the Tour de France. I have been through the loss of my dad from cancer, and still have close friends going through it, so it’s very personal to me – hence it was always meant to be that Lance would become my hero.

Here’s a man who had testicular cancer that metastasised to his lungs and brain yet, through treatment he went into remission and continued his journey to much success. Additionally, he has set up an amazing Livestrong Foundation. Livestrong has fantastic resources and, although USA based, their website is excellent. I have accessed diary books that really are good for cancer patients here in the UK. 

My dilemma… surviving such devastating cancer is an extreme experience, so why would someone risk their life again by taking performance enhancing drugs? Sometimes, having a near death experience can make you ‘live on the edge’, take more risks because you don’t know what is ahead so you live for the experience. This might give some explanation.

Still I feel sad. Personally because I believe Lance has always been a victim of a witch hunt. Lots of bad cycling drug events happened in both the 90s (even before Lance had cancer) and in the following years. Yet Lance receives a lifetime ban. Is this the case for all the other proven drug cheats? No.

Next year’s Tour de France route has just been released. The media are reporting that this makes it hard for the current champion to defend the yellow jersey – Wiggins. News reports are also saying that it favours Alberto Contator (who served a two year ban and was stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title), and Andy Scleck, whose brother was booted off last year’s Tour for drug testing irregularities. My problem here is why are drug cheats not banned for life? And this goes for all sports! There is evidence that there is a lasting effect of certain drugs which gives a performance enhancing effect. I know certain drug cheats are repentant for change (for example David Millar) and this is brilliant but I still feel uncomfortable about them competing at all. Oh and then there’s the other standard where Lance is banned for life? Conflicting standards are not good. Either you are a drug cheat or not.

My final point here is concerning the Livestrong Foundation. I urge you to separate out what has happened to Lance in sport and what this foundation is about. Seriously, I live in the UK, am a nurse, and I go to the Livestrong Foundation for resources as they are second to none!

JAN