Bleacher Bits: Lance still rides as champion
American cyclist Lance Armstrong rode to victory in seven straight Tour de France races — the competition seen as the most prestigious in the cycling world.
Go ahead and look it up. You'll see that his first win came in 1999, and he won it each year through 2005. That fact is irrefutable.
Did he do it on the up-and-up? That's where there's apparently room for disagreement. The US Anti-Doping Agency maintains it has overwhelming proof Armstrong has used banned substances — including the blood-booster EPO, steroids and blood transfusions — as far back as 1996.
Armstrong has always maintained his innocence, but on Aug. 23 announced his plans to give up the fight to clear his name. In a statement on his website, Armstrong said, "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now."
If anyone is unfamiliar with Armstrong's backstory, at the age of 25 he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of testicular cancer that metastasized into his lymph nodes, lungs and brain. He subsequently had surgeries to remove his cancerous testicle and a pair of cancerous lesions on his brain, along with receiving four round of chemotherapy.
In 1997, he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation to help raise money for cancer research. To date the foundation has raised nearly $470 million.
Both of my parents, as well as my eldest sister, have had cancer. After my mother was diagnosed, I began volunteering on the entertainment committee of the local Relay for Life back in Iowa. I came up with hourly games and themes to keep people interested, and also collected prizes to award to the winners of the games.
In 2001, shortly after Armstrong has won his second Tour, I sent a letter to the foundation asking if they would care to donate anything for the event. I received an autographed poster I would have really loved keeping, but instead had it professionally framed and it now hangs elsewhere.
I'm not naive. I realize that there is a chance Armstrong is guilty of the doping allegations. As a result of his giving up his fight against the USADA, he may be stripped of his seven Tour wins.
Whether or not he won seven bicycle races means very little to me, it's what he has done for cancer research that makes him a champion.
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.