Lance Armstrong's Tour de Betrayal
The Kansas City Star
Nike fired Lance Armstrong today, and said the cycling champion had betrayed his sponsor.
“Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him,” Nike said in a statement. “Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner.”
To say that Armstrong “misled Nike” is an understatement. He betrayed his sponsor, as he did his worldwide fan base. Armstrong wasn’t just another superstar athlete. He was the cancer survivor, the comeback kid, the philanthropist, the inspirer. He was the guy who supposedly could scale mountains and accomplish anything through the sheer force of his will.
And a pharmacy full of banned substances and tricks, it now appears.
Armstrong’s “Mr. Clean” act never made much sense. Cycling is one of the world’s dirtiest sports, and we were supposed to believe that Lance was winning multiple Tour de France titles on the basis of his prodigious training regime and some carbo loading, while his lesser competitors were injecting steroids. It never did add up.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a report last week laying out, in painful detail, its case that Armstrong practically made a science out of illegal performance-enhancing drugs and techniques, and he encouraged his teammates to do likewise.
One can’t help but draw parallels between the stories of Armstrong and the even more tragic saga of football coach Joe Paterno. The fall is steeper and harder when you have placed yourself on a pedestal.