Lance Armstrong Caught Yellow-Handed

For years, Lance Armstrong was the model athlete: he overcame the greatest of adversities and persevered on the grandest of world stages. After testicular cancer nearly derailed his cycling career in 1996, Armstrong fought and defeated the disease in 1997, and resumed his cycling career. From 1999-2005, Armstrong won a record seven Tour De France titles, practically owning the race’s signature yellow jersey. On top of his racing success, Armstrong the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997, and its signature yellow “Livestrong” bracelets became a global phenomenon.

Even after his return to professional cycling in 2009, Armstrong acted and behaved like a model champion, a role model, and a hero. Yet through all the triumphs and all the accolades, people questioned whether this remarkable performance was possible without the assistance of performance-enhancing drugs. After American cyclist Floyd Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour De France trophy, pressure mounted on Armstrong to remain innocent and protect the image of American cycling. We now know that Armstrong, much like Floyd Landis, was not clean.

In June 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officially charged Armstrong with the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, and later announced a lifetime ban for Armstrong and the removal of all his cycling championships since 1997, including his record 7 Tour De France victories. The UCI, cycling’s governing body, announced Tuesday they would agree to the same conditions as the USADA, effectively ending Armstrong’s career.

Armstrong also stepped down as the Chairman of his own Foundation, leaving doubt in many people’s minds whether Armstrong would ever return to the public spotlight again. Nike also announced the end of its relationship with the cyclist, a deal reportedly worth $10 million per year.

Nobody knows for sure how this shocking decision will affect business. Will Armstrong’s Foundation be negatively affected because of its founder’s past transgressions? Will “Livestrong” bracelets become a thing of the past? Could Nike suffer from its past relationship with a cheater? Only time will tell, but the economic impacts of this decision may not be the largest problem. Many people, including myself, looked up to Lance as a courageous, inspiring role model in the world of athletics. Now it can be known this man, considered a hero by many, is just another cheater.

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