By Jason Menard
It’s too tough. I’m going to pack up my bags and go home.
Yeah, that sounds like Lance Armstrong. You know, the man who for years embodied perseverance, fighting against the odds and winning. Those words are the words of a man who survived cancer and came back to win seven Tour de France titles.
If that doesn’t define a man who folds when things get tough, then I don’t know what does.
But that’s what Armstrong will have you believe. Lance would have us believe that he’s not appealing the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to hand down a lifetime ban due to alleged doping not because he’s guilty, but because he’s tired of the witch hunt.
He’s clinging to those seven titles not with the tenacity of one sure in his innocence, but rather he’s clinging to them by questioning the USADA’s dominion over his Tour de France titles.
Armstrong would have you believe that he’s an innocent victim in the USADA’s obsessive game to pin the drug cheat label on him.
Although we don’t know the full extent of the evidence against him, the USADA has indicated 10 former teammates are prepared to testify against Armstrong, that it has evidence he used banned substances, and that blood tests in 2009 and 2010 were consistent with blood doping.
But Armstrong would have us believe that he’s innocent but just tired of fighting the Man.
Sorry Lance, we’re not buying it. You’re a victim of the image you’ve created – the heroic, win-at-all costs survivor living to inspire others. That image – the one Armstrong wants us to remember — doesn’t match the Armstrong we saw yesterday.
Lance and the Armstrong brand have weathered the storm of drug allegations for years – rumours of drug use have followed Lance since he started winning – yet only now are we to believe that this constant battering of allegation has eroded Armstrong’s foundation of principle?
It doesn’t make sense. No matter how hard, most people – if they were innocent — would fight to end to clear their names. We often hear stories of wrongly convicted people exonerated years, if not decades, after their incarceration because they refused to relinquish their claim to innocence.
And here we have Lance, who hasn’t exactly suffered in a prison, but rather has enjoyed a glamourous lifestyle hobnobbing with Hollywood starlets and appearing on magazine covers, claiming that he’s reached the point where “enough is enough.”
Is that the message all of those people wearing Livestrong wristbands are supposed to hold dear to their hearts? When cancer gets tough and you’re ready to give in, are people supposed to follow Lance’s example and saying, “enough is enough.”
Lance called the USADA’s investigation a witch hunt. But you know what else isn’t fair? Cancer. Every time one sees a little boy or girl suffering from this horrible illness, one has to question the fairness of this world. In the past, Lance has effectively said to them that life may not be fair, but we must find the strength to fight for what’s right. Which message rings true now?
Maybe there will be those whose desire to believe outweighs the evidence. Maybe Armstrong is hoping that his image will be buoyed by those zealots who share his opinion that he’s been unfairly targeted. And maybe this confirmation of what so many have long suspected will do little to change the public’s feeling about what this man accomplished.
But for the first time the worst label affixed to Armstrong isn’t that of “cheater” — it’s that of “quitter.” If he’s truly innocent, he owes it to everyone out there who has taken strength from those little yellow armbands and told cancer “enough is NOT enough” to fight.
And if he’s guilty and just trying to avoid admitting it, he at least owes each of those people the courtesy not to use “enough is enough” as an excuse.
Those cancer survivors drew their strength from the image he created. And despite whatever shaky foundation that image was built upon, Lance owes it to himself to live up to those ideals. He asked others not to quit and say “enough is enough” — it’s time for him to do the same.