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SOAP BOX: Allegations distract from cyclist's service

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 12:11

A professional cyclist contracts a deadly, killing disease. After a long battle and against all odds, he manages to not only defeat cancer, but return to the sport of cycling and win its highest honor as champion of the Tour de France not once, but a record seven times.


What Lance Armstrong achieved didn’t end with each race — he became a cancer research activist, founding Livestrong, the organization whose platform is to identify issues faced by cancer survivors and improve the quality of life for those in the cancer community.


I have read his books — all of them, I think. I was probably 13 or 14 years old when I did so. I was amazed by his story, even inspired. I think of how many people he has helped and how many lives he has changed through his efforts.


Anyone with internet access, which is virtually everyone, will see a very different image of Lance plastered across news sites around the globe. The credibility of his cycling accomplishments is now in question. Google news with his name and you will see dark headlines about fallen heroes, deception and doping, painting a picture of of man without integrity — a cheater who should no longer be the object of our admiration.


I don’t by any means condone what he did, and I do not think that the ends justify the means in this case, but that said, have you ever cheated? I have. Am I proud of it? Of course not, though I feel like I need to ask myself a question: What good have I done in the world to counterbalance my negative act of cheating? What positive things have I done to make up for moments when I have been lacking in integrity? What have you done?


It is easy to sit back in our desk chairs, pointing the finger of condemnation at Lance, scorning him for what we feel was some sort of betrayal. If he did indeed dope, he obviously knew it all along, and before he was crucified by the media, the moral burden of that decision was confined to him and any directly involved.


Is my life changed because he cheated? No. I do not know him. He is not my friend. I admired the values and ideas for which he stood, and they have not somehow disappeared because he has fallen from fame. Hard workers can still win. People can still overcome cancer and go on to do amazing things. My very good friend Meghan Peterson, a USU student, has beaten cancer. That inspires me. I can still apply the lessons I learned from Lance Armstrong’s story because I don’t see them in him alone.


I have yet to do something so great as start a foundation for cancer research, let alone beat the disease. My achievements cannot hope to rival that single achievement of Lance, but someday they could. I can only hope they will. And guess what? I am positive that, just like Lance, I will be making a great deal of my own mistakes along the way. I can only hope that in the end I accomplish much more good than bad.

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