Internationally renowned and respected cyclist Lance Armstrong chose to discontinue contesting the charges imposed on him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency that accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs. Not only did the USADA charge Armstrong with drug use, but they also charged him for facilitating the distribution of drugs amongst his teammates on his Tour de France-winning teams.
Armstrong remains personally adamant that he did not participate in drug use during his career. He claims he decided not to fight the charges because of the negative impact the case had on his family and the distraction that prevented him from diligently working with his cancer foundation. By accepting the charges, Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and all the financial compensation and awards he received after August 1998. Additionally, he is forbidden from participating in any Olympic or any other sport that adheres to the World Anti-Doping Code.
The testimonies against Armstrong and the shocking truths about his achievements show how our society today — primarily the athletic environment — has transformed into a cut-throat, ruthless battlefield between those who stand accused of drug use and their accusers. Furthermore, Armstrong’s case gives a lot of insight into the amount of pressure placed on professional athletes to succeed. On top of stellar performances, an athlete is also expected to be a model citizen. Regardless of how much talent Armstrong has, his decision to stop fighting the drug charges may tarnish his legacy and caused a lot of disappointment amongst his fans, especially those who looked up to Armstrong as more than just an incredible athlete.
A man who beat testicular cancer at age 25, excelled as a world-class athlete for an extended period of time and founded an organization that helps many combat their respective illnesses now carries a tainted reputation that caused many to lose faith in genuine courage, effort and skill. Nonetheless, the perseverance Lance Armstrong showed through fighting his cancer, setting athletic records and maintaining his composure during his struggle against the USADA will continue to characterize him as a remarkable individual.
Insia Zaidi is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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