When Lance Armstrong finally admitted in an interview on Oprah Winfrey’s show that he was guilty of doping throughout his career as one of the greatest cyclists the world has ever known, the world reeled in collective horror as the flawless veneer of one of the most inspirational athletes to have ever existed was stripped right before our eyes. While the public fallout was surely painful to Lance and his supporters, the cherry on the proverbial pain sunday was when he was stripped of every Tour de France victory (seven in total) as punishment for his steroid abuse and subsequent lying about it. While you would think this would be enough, the revelations also cost Lance most, if not all, of his sponsorship deals as well as his position within the Livestrong Foundation.
In a follow up interview with the BBC about his new documentary, Lance Armstrong: The Road Ahead, the question about doping and whether he would do it again was posed and the answer that Lance gave surely shocked most if not all of the viewers and especially his supporters. Lance said that if he could go back in time to 1995 then he would absolutely dope again but that if he were in the same position now as he was back then, he wouldn’t. While this might have shocked people, his follow-up actually makes a lot of sense and his decisions, while wrong, could at least be seen as reasonable. Apparently the 90’s were the heydey of doping in the cycling world and everyone was doing it. Not only were all major competitors doing it, the culture of the sport also led to pushing steroids on bikers and coercing those who were unwilling into steroid abuse.
The only way to stand a chance and stand out from the pack was by injecting steroids and breaking the rules and so Lance would do it again because that was the norm and he wouldn’t have found any success if he hadn’t. While this is worrisome, it also speaks to the culture in many professional athletic competitions and how those who are new and inexperienced are frequently led down the wrong path by mentors and older competitors who had no respect for the game. If anything, this interview should led to less of a focus on Lance Armstrong and more on the culture of these sports that promote and reward cheating and flaunting the rules.
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