This will be a short post. I don’t really have anything to add on the sordid affair of Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace. This post is in reaction to a tweet I saw; it said that it didn’t matter that Lance Armstrong had cheated throughout his career and had covered it up, because he had done it so he could raise a half billion dollars for cancer research.
Which to be frank, is one of the stupidest things I’ve seen on the internet in a long while. Lance Armstrong cheated throughout his entire career and covered it up so that he could make millions of dollars for himself, gain lucrative endorsement deals, be celebrated as a hero, and enjoy all the trappings of fame and influence. His charity work was only enabled because people thought that he had made a heroic comeback from Cancer and went on to achieve sporting glory in the Tour de France. I’m sure that Lance Armstrong truly cared about raising money to fight Cancer, but I also believe that he cared more about protecting Lance Armstrong.
And although the half a billion dollar figure sounds impressive, very little of it ever went to cancer research, most of it went to providing support to the families of cancer patients; certainly admirable but not what most people who donated thought their money was going towards. Indeed a large chunk of that money goes to legal fees, mainly to protect the Livestrong foundations trademarks.
Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace has been building for years and he used his charitable work to shield himself from criticism and investigation. And who now suffers the most from Armstrong’s fall? The people who might have been helped by the Livestrong foundation, as donations are sure to dry up. Lance Armstrong had built the foundation in his image to mold his public image and cloak himself as a hero, and his fall will bring Livestrong down as well.
So no it is not okay to excuse Armstrong’s doping because of the good he did. His whole career was built on a foundation of lies that has now come apart, and without those lies he never would have been able to do any charity work, for in reality he was no hero, just a mediocre cyclist who needed drugs to win, and who would have given him their money? And his downfall will destroy his foundation and erase any good he ever did.