Dear Lance Armstrong;
How dare you?
People looked up to you. You were an inspiration and a source of national pride to many. Through your “victories,” we saw that adversity can be overcome through tenacity; that triumph could come despite being faced with opponents who were known to be cheating.
In an era of arrogance in the sporting world so pervasive that some athletes charge money to give their autographs, you were an exception. You were a powerful image of a man who beat cancer, who spearheaded a charity that has helped millions, who sparked Livestrong — your own brand, for God’s sake! — the very name of which served as an inspiration.
We were excited when the Tour de France rolled around, because we were certain that you would soon roll across the finish line.
People flocked to bicycling events for a chance to see you soar by, if only for a split second.
And now we learn that you were cheating by using performance-enhancing drugs. That your victories meant nothing.
Sure, we suspected it. After all, winning seven titles in the Tour de France takes no less than a Superman. But that’s what you were to us.
You were Superman to millions, and that’s why this is so hard to take: Superman would never lie. He would never cheat.
That’s the worst thing about this, Mr. Armstrong. We will never be able to look at the triumph of a true athlete without wondering, are they cheating, too?
On that note, Mr. Armstrong, what will you tell the children who looked up to you? Who have now learned that their hero is a cheater? That the path to victory comes not by hard work but being duplicitous?
I’m not sure you care, since your admission Thursday came without apology.
Your egotistical behavior has disillusioned many people who truly needed a hero, in an age when heroes are rare indeed.
Perhaps I and others like me placed you too high on a pedestal. I am duly abashed. Never again will I make that mistake.
Please remember this as you slowly fade into obscurity: that we will move on. We will find inspiration despite you. We will find a hero.
But this time, we’ll be a bit more wary.
Todd Guild is a reporter at the Register-Pajaronian.
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