Lance Armstrong was among those sporting icons who had managed to get fame beyond the boundaries of his own country and well beyond the followers of the sport that he patronized. He gave hope to people suffering from cancer as he fought against the disease and came back successfully to win series of Tour De France crown. Some of us might remember the yellow Livestrong bracelets that, both in it’s original and counterfeit form, had become widely popular across the world and were symbols of wide spread support for people fighting against cancer. Yet here is the man facing the most severest charges that would make people who trusted in him feel ashamed of. US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) indicates it has more than a strong case against Armstrong. With each passing day more and more of his former team mates are coming out with their own accounts of how they were bullied and coerced to fall in line with the doping practices prescribed by Lance Armstrong.
Whether he would come out of these allegations that are yet to be proved, remains to be seen. However there is no denying his skills as a cyclist that he demonstrated very early in his life though the doping charges threaten to completely obliterate his skills as a cyclist. It is essential to note that the charges against him start from year 1999, by then he was already an established professional cyclist winning many competitions and races in the US and Europe. He won two Tour De Force titles in 1993 (Stage 8) and 1995 (Stage 18). It was in 1996 that he was diagnosed with Testicular cancer. The big blotch though is that his famous wins at Tour De France, post his recovery from cancer, came within the years where he is alleged to have been deep into taking performance enhancement drugs, thus raising credibility about how much of his success could be attributed to his spirit and how much to the performance enhancement drugs. Can personal greed push one to such extreme acts?
Sporting standards have undoubtedly gone many notches higher. While the human body hasn’t evolved in any visible sense yet year over year athletes have improved dramatically and give performances that almost seem nonhuman-like. Most of the athletes and sportsmen (Cricket or Football) seem to play almost all through out the year defying the wear and tear of the body, swimmers and sprinters continue to better the event records. This doping allegation against Lance Armstrong raises fingers against all sporting icons in all fields! It leaves one with a sense of fear who the next sporting great could be, ready to fall from grace? How many of the performances that we have admired in various sports are the result of performance enhancement drugs? Are all the sportsmen adept in knowing how to take drugs and not get caught (less adept do get caught)? How much of a success in an event can be attributed to the athletes skills and how much to the enhancement from drugs?
It is scary to imagine if sports has become like a Daily Soap, playing to the needs of the viewers. What if sports was to be played out with predetermined scripts that get tweaked depending on what viewers want (betting scandal is already known)? Does the sport influence the viewer-ship or is the viewer-ship influencing the sport? Fate of Lance Armstrong would soon be decided, however I hope that it acts as a wake up call for many others in case if any have resorted to similar means. Criminal act of any nature and type never pays; it does come back to haunt the perpetrator one way or the other