By: Jason Chen
Cycling was dealt a major blow when one of the sport’s most iconic figures, Lance Armstrong, was stripped of his seven Tour de France wins after the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) charged him with using illegal performance-enhancing drugs starting from 1998. Armstrong’s ban from cycling has forever altered the public’s perception of cycling and the sport’s governing body Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
Lance Armstrong started his career as a triathlete but soon switched to cycling in 1992. Even though Armstrong was weakened by his bout with testicular cancer from 1996-98, he came back with a roar as he captured seven consecutive Tour de France titles. Armstrong retired from cycling in 2010 while facing a US Federal investigation into doping allegations.
On Oct. 22, 2012, Armstrong was dealt his most severe blow yet as the UCI stripped him of all his Tour de France titles and slapped him with a lifetime cycling ban. Armstrong did not appeal the decision USADA decision, so he also forfeits all prizes and awards earned after 1998. USADA’s report called Armstrong a “serial cheat who led the most sophisticated, professionalized, and successful doping program the sport has ever seen.”
Armstrong’s reputation and career is forever tarnished after the USADA’s decision. UCI president Pat McQuaid exclaimed “Armstrong has no place in cycling. He deserves to be forgotten.” The French Cycling Federation (FFC) stated that they want “reimbursement of Armstrong’s winnings that totaled 2.95 million Euros for the development of cycling among the youth and the prevention of doping. Not only did Armstrong lose just money, he lost all the sponsors he had accrued throughout his career and now his name is saddled with shame.
The USADA’s indictment of Armstrong dealt a huge blow to the sport of cycling as well. After Armstrong’s wins were vacated, the FFC decided not to rename new winners because the widespread allegations of doping applied not just to Armstrong, but also with as much as two-thirds of the cyclists that competed. After the US Federal investigation uncovered the amount of doping that is happening was cycling, the image of the sport has taken a huge hit. More people now associate cycling and its governing bodies with cheating and shame.
Armstrong deserves the punishments brought forth by the USADA and cycling’s governing bodies. In a sport that is based on the ideals of integrity and honesty, the USADA’s newest findings prove that Armstrong’s accomplishments go against those very principles that have governed the cycling for centuries.