When you start talking about cycling, it’s inevitable that Lance Armstrong will be brought up in the conversation. Sadly, most people view him as a pretty terrible person. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree that what Lance Armstrong did in terms of doping to win races, the way he ruined the lives of many who spoke out against him and generally how he treated people over the years, was absolutely terrible. However, I don’t blame Lance Armstrong for doping. I really don’t. And when I explain why, you just may come away with a different point of view on the topic or at least see some reasoning behind why he did it.
To Be Competitive
Lance and many others have spoken about how when they were young and moving up in the sport, it became very evident to them that if they wanted to progress to the next level, they had to start doping. It was well known among those in the sport that the top cyclists were all doping. So it wasn’t a matter of choice if you wanted to be one of the top cyclists. It was either start doping or quit the sport and do something else with their lives. This doesn’t make what he did right, but if someone told you that to do the thing you loved that you had to do something that was against the rules, you would at least think pretty hard about it. I would bet that even most people would choose to go ahead and do it if it meant they could do the thing that they love.
He Was Just The Best Cheater Amongst Other Cheaters
The hate toward Lance Armstrong is interesting as everyone gets up on their high horse and throws done judgement toward him from a pedestal. You want to know the honest truth? Lance was simply the best at cheating amongst an entire sport full of cheaters. This pretty much means it was a level playing field, given that basically everyone in the sport was cheating. He was the biggest name, of course, and had the most to lose by getting busted for doping. That’s why he so adamantly denied the rumors over the years when they would come up and why he went after people’s livelihoods when they would tell the truth about what he was doing. Don’t think for a second that Lance was the only one in the sport doing it. He was simply the best at not only cycling at the time, but also at doping.
The Lance Machine
Part of the reason I don’t blame Lance for doing what he did was because of the whole Lance Armstrong machine that was in full force by the time he was winning his Tour De France championships. His cancer foundation, legions of fans, and those that had financial reasons to support Lance, stood to make a lot of money as long as he kept winning. This is what helped him be the best cheater in a sport full of cheaters. He had a whole team that knew what was going on that helped him beat drug tests, pay off people, and keep the whole Lance train moving. Lance may be a jerk, but I do believe that he did feel pressure to stay on top and not be labeled a cheater so that his cancer foundation could continue to do a lot of good, which it did do. There is a pretty good argument to be made that by Lance cheating and becoming the icon that he did, that he was able to help many people beat cancer and still be alive to this day.