LIES and calculated deception. It appears that is how Lance Armstrong lived his life as a cyclist – and that is exactly how he should be remembered.
Armstrong never won fair and square. He won with the assistance of drugs and teams of cyclists fuelled by the same.
He was never a champion.
According to the US Anti-Doping Agency, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest Armstrong is a drug cheat.
So overwhelming, the International Cycling Union now accepts it to be true – despite previously defending the disgraced cyclist.
After two weeks’ studying the evidence, the ICU has accepted sanctions imposed by the USADA and stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France wins. There is every chance he will also lose his Olympic bronze medallion.
Sponsors have rightly dumped the one-time champion – with Nike citing he had “misled’’ the company for years.
Others are demanding Armstrong repay millions of dollars in bonuses because it would be improper for him to retain payments given he is not the official winner. But it was Australian Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtor who yesterday best described how most connected to Armstrong were feeling.
When speaking about the benefits Armstrong’s international profile gave the tour, he admitted they were beyond his “wildest expectations’’.
“But that was back then, when we weren’t aware of all this other business,” he said.
“I feel it’s a pretty severe kick in the guts... it was welcomed with open arms, but we were deceived.”
So too, were the millions of followers worldwide who believed in their “hero’’.
Those who believed every word he said. Who read his books. Who supported his Livestrong cancer charity.
Thankfully, Armstrong has stood down from the charity and many sponsors have had the compassion to continue supporting what Livestrong does for a genuine cause.
But no one wants to be seen to be involved with a drug cheat.
After all, the evidence suggests he was a man who used a very clever drug program that was masterminded to ensure it was difficult to detect.
He was named as the central figure in a systematic doping program, which saw other cyclists bullied into participating.
A man who does that is not a hero. That man is a lying cheat.
Those prepared to support him and advocate for him should be asking themselves, why?
He has brought the sport into disrepute. Lied for a prolonged period of time and lived off earnings gained through deception.
He has also robbed genuine sportsmen, who are clean of drugs, the right to reach the top of their sport.
Nothing about that is admirable or acceptable.
The scary thing about Armstrong was that he was so believable. But such is often the case with people who are comfortable telling lies.
The only lesson we can learn from this is that lies get you nowhere. Deception gets you nowhere.
Drugs get you nowhere.
They may take you to never before reached heights, but there is always a crash at the end.
If Armstrong felt any genuine remorse, he would have come clean years ago.
Any attempt by him now to try to say he has learnt a lesson will only be to save face.
It’s too late for that.
● Nicole Ferrie is the Bendigo Advertiser’s deputy editor. Email email@example.com