Saturday 29 June 2013

Tour de France Turns 100

Lance Armstrong wins his first Tour de France circa 1999 courtesy

As dozens of cyclists line up today to complete the 100th Tour de France, one cyclist will be in their shadow.  It's American Lance Armstrong.  He performed the impossible by winning the tour not once but seven times.  In the past year, however, his titles have been stripped from him due to accusations of doping.  According to Mr. Armstrong, you can't win the Tour de France without doping.  What a sad commentary on modern day sports.

I have mixed emotions about the scandal.  On the one hand, it would be easy to condemn Lance Armstrong and say that he is a liar and a cheat.  What about all of the cyclists who did it honestly?

On the other hand, I think of all that he has done for cancer patients.  I think of the fact that he survived not one, but two cancers (testicular and brain).  I think of the surgeries he underwent.  I think of the chemo he endured.  I think of the book he wrote telling of his gruelling trial.  I think of how he didn't feel sorry for himself.  Of how he got right back on the bike and started riding again.  Of how he trained day in and day out to qualify for the Tour de France.  Of how he knew the route like the back of his hand.  Of how he cycled down the Champs-Elysees in 1999, smiling ear to ear.  Of how he stood at the top of the podium.  And of how he came back again and again and again.

I think of his brave stance.  I think of how, despite doctors telling him he might not survive, of how he not only lived, but lived strong.  I think of how he started LiveStrong to support other struggling with cancer.  I think of those he inspired to fight this dreaded disease.  I think of those he inspired to get right back on the bike -- to never give up hope.

So while I don't condone using drugs, I am afraid that the world with forget all the good that Lance Armstrong has done.  I still consider him a brave man and a good human being.  May we remember him for what he has done right, on and off the bike.

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