Before we get into details, I would like to make my stance very clear: I am GLAD that Lance Armstrong cheated!
There, I said it. Once your lower jaw returns to its upright and locked position, please continue reading.
As you may have heard, Oprah conducted an interview with Lance Armstrong yesterday in which he was candid about his history in cycling and allegations of PED use (performance enhancing drugs). While this interview won't air on television until Thursday and Friday (on Oprah's network of course), inside information has leaked that Lance did admit to cheating on his way to 7 Tour de France titles. This should come as no surprise since Armstrong has already been stripped of all 7 titles and given a lifetime ban in cycling for positive drug tests.
So then, you might be wondering why I'm happy about this. After all, steroids are a pressing issue in today's sports landscape and nobody likes a cheater. Well in this case, I do.
Lance Armstrong is a cancer survivor. Let me repeat that so it sinks in ... Lance Armstrong is a cancer survivor. That by itself is more impressive than any bike race he could compete in. So, after defeating cancer, Lance decides to continue his cycling career. Can you really blame a man who just fought a successful battle with cancer for trying to get a little extra competitive edge? It's tough enough to be competitive when you're healthy, but even more so after beating a potentially fatal disease. He cheats, he wins, and he becomes a hero because nobody knows the difference. And that's where it gets good.
Ever seen a "LIVESTRONG" bracelet? Unless you live in a Ugandan hut raising 5 children and a goat, my guess is yes. Lance Armstrong brought life to the movement to defeat cancer. Using the celebrity he earned from his Tour victories, Lance has raised millions and millions of dollars for cancer research through his foundation. He has potentially helped to save hundreds of thousands of lives with the money he helped raise and has been the face of cancer research for almost 10 years. The good that Lance Armstrong has brought the world is absolutely immeasurable and far surpasses the supposed "disgrace" that he brought to the already corrupt sport of cycling.
Let's take a look at some other notable cheaters from the world of sports. Jose Canseco admitted to using steroids to hit home runs. His greatest contribution to society: a book that slanders half the athletes in Major League baseball. Pete Rose was caught betting on baseball games (clearly against the rules) and banned from the Hall of Fame. His biggest contribution? He has a new reality show on TLC that follows him as he looks to marry a model. Way to go Charlie Hustle. And it's not just men. Remember Marion Jones? Decorated Olympian and discovered cheater. How has she given back?
The truth of the matter is, Lance Armstrong cheated and ultimately the world is a much better place because of it. While at first it bugged me that he took so long to come clean, I get it now. He had to wait. He knew the second the truth came out, all of the good he had done would be forgotten and the progress he made in cancer research halted. And guess what, he was right. The interview with Oprah hasn't even aired yet and already the internet and social media are filled with hate and disgust for Lance Armstrong. What a shame.
If Lance Armstrong had not cheated, I think it's fair to assume he never would have won the Tour de France even once, let alone 7 times. Had he not won the Tour, he would never have become the icon that he is. His story would have been a tiny footnote that nobody remembered. Who even knows how many other cancer survivors have competed, all because they didn't win? If Lance wasn't an icon there would be no LIVESTRONG, no bracelets, no foundation, and significantly fewer cancer survivors because the funding wasn't there. I'm not prepared to tell someone who has benefited from the money raised that they probably should have died because "cheating is wrong" in sports.
So yes, I am glad that Lance Armstrong cheated. And for the good of society, I hope you are too.