The thought of American cyclist Lance Armstrong once conjured images of grit and determination, brilliance and endurance. Sadly, the world will never view the cycling great the way they used to.
The evidence produced by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) against the seven-time Tour de France winner will never allow that feeling to come back again.
Only recently we heard our very own cricketer Yuvraj Singh saying he wanted to be inspired by Armstrong when it came to fighting cancer. Yuvraj did, and is believed to have conquered the dreaded disease. Wonder what he will think of Armstrong now, after it is has been firmly established that his wonderful career had a huge, thick drug ring around it.
An amazing amount of teammates testified against Armstrong, who is now well and truly in sport’s Hall of Shame. Sure, he suffered a life-threatening disease and fought the fight in the greatest possible way. But the illness cannot give him the sympathy vote.
There will still be some Armstrong fans, who feel he is innocent. But the man himself will forever be haunted by the words in the report — “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.”
It will take a while for the 41-year-old Texan to get his life back on track. His wheels have fallen off and getting off the ground will take some doing.
However, his disgrace should serve as a lesson for other practitioners of cycling. Also, cycling bodies the world over must now accept that their sport is far from clean and there are several cyclists out there, who have not competed and won in a fair manner.
Probably, Armstrong’s former teammate — Australian Patrick Jonker — who rode for Armstrong’s US Postal team in 2000, has a point when he said: “I don’t think Lance could have acted as the sole power behind this. I believe you must have had the knowledge of a doctor to enforce this. To crucify Lance and only Lance would be unfair, they need to crucify the sport during that era.”