Lance Armstrong Stripped of Tour De France Titles
Lance Armstrong gave up his defense against claims he took performance enhancing drugs Thursday calling it a "pitiful charade". The 7 time Tour de France winner says he it is putting in behind him.
In his blog, he denies any wrongdoing and will continue to focus on his efforts to fight cancer with the Armstrong Foundation.
Whether Lance Armstrong took performance enhancing drugs isn't the issue now. What's happened is all history. The guy is still a winner. He still had to get on the bike and compete. And even if he did dope, he helped spur an entire cycling industry who possibly knew about it and benefited from it.
Armstrong brought the world of cycling in the public eye.
The cycling equipment, clothing manufacturers, and corporate sponsors all benefited from it. It was a perfect story. Battling cancer to only come back and win six more times was inspiring. It made everyone feel like a winner.
It was a good vibe for you, me, and the world.
That the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) says there are 10 former teammates willing to step up and announce they know Armstrong doped, says it all. That the evidence is there says a lot not only of the sport today, but of how long the secrecy went. This is one of those things where putting Armstrong in the public eye as a winner was good for the sport and made it more popular to people around the world. For in the United States, not many followed the Tour de France. It needed a Tiger Woods of cycling to put in the media and discussed around dinner tables worldwide.
Everybody loves a winner with an inspiring story.
George Mount: US Cycling Comes of Age
Then, there's George Mount.
Many years ago, I had the pleasure of working with George at a small Silicon Valley startup company back in the late 1980's. I had just gotten out of college and it was George who mentored me. Prior to Lance Armstrong, it was Mount who was King of The Hill for US Cycling.
For those who don't know who Mount was, he was a US Olympic cyclist and Tour De France racer. Back in the 1970's, US cycling was just starting to get respect and Mount proved that US can compete against the best. Since 1912, no US cyclist had ever finished in the top 60 in the Olympics.
He finished 6th in the 1976 Olympics telling me he "just missed a bronze medal" by a mere second. A few years ago I came across this old 1976 Olympics Cycling video clip on YouTube. He actually led the race at one point.
Visiting his apartment one day, he told me about racing for the 7Eleven team and proudly showed me his bike, uniform, and gear. I'd never forget the next day when he brought his bike to work and pumped furiously up and down Embarcadero Way in Palo Alto (office) like a blur. It was truly a sight to see and we all sat in amazement of just how fast he was a decade later.
I know from my case, that it got me off the couch and on a bike to peddle the streets of Campbell and downtown Los Gatos. I lost weight. I had something to relieve stress and enjoy in my free time. That it took someone to inspire me to race through the corridor from Campbell Park to Vasona Park every other day was thrilling. I was never more in the best shape of my life.
Doping Is For Dopes
Cheating in sports sends out the wrong signal in society. Kids try their hardest in sports looking up to professional athletes and the love of the sport. That society is slowly choosing to accept doping whether in baseball, football or cycling is an issue. We as people have to decide do we want to go with winners merely for the hype and sensation of it all, or to sneer at it vehemently. For when it turns to be an issue all about money and loss in ethics, that's the dividing line in how we choose to live our lives. Its the wrong way of course.
Lance Armstrong may have put cycling on the dinner table. But it's guys like George Mount who were there to cook it up and put it in the oven.
About Kerry Kobashi
Kerry is the founder of KerryOnWorld. He lives in Silicon Valley.