Lance Armstrong: A Cautionary Tale

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Lance Armstrong, long considered an American hero, was once one of the most celebrated athletes in the world. His story was one of the great romances—he triumphed through a devastating medical tribulation only to come out even more successful than he was before. Armstrong's values of discipline, skill, and endurance were once something to be admired but, unfortunately, as his deceitfulness has now been exposed, we can see how much character really counts.

In June of 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency charged Armstrong with having used illegal performance-enhancing drugs during his time as a competitive cyclist. First, he vehemently denied these allegations. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and his dignity. He stepped down from Livestrong, a nonprofit organization that he founded and that provides support to people living with cancer, and was barred from all Olympic competition. Yet he still denied the charges.

But just a few months later, in January of 2013, he changed his tune. In a surprisingly unemotional and unenergetic interview with Oprah Winfrey, he confessed to doping. Yet he seemed to rationalize his decision to take the drugs as "necessary" and "to even the playing field." While he can be commended for finally coming clean, he did so in the same tone that he used as he dispassionately lied about it in the first place.

The serious doping allegations against Armstrong and his subsequent lack of sincerity have tarnished the image of this American athlete. The use of performance-enhancing drugs goes against all the core values that are characteristic of the victorious spirit. Armstrong's legacy and reputation have become irreparably damaged. His fall from grace was a fast and steep one. Lance Armstrong is living proof of how much character really does count.

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