The Garden City Telegram
1/19/2013
SOUTHWEST LIFE

Another hero falls by the wayside in the name of winning

Another hero bites the dust.

Lance Armstrong has finally admitted he cheated, coming clean to Oprah.

This is not startling news. Armstrong was already disgraced, having earlier had his seven Tour de France cycling titles stripped.

This week, he sat down with Oprah and confessed to taking drugs that gave him a competitive edge while on the tour.

Armstrong, and many like him in his sport and other sports, have broken all the rules in the name of winning.

If it gave him an edge, kept him above the competition, Armstrong filled his body with it.

Then he denied, denied, denied and bullied anyone who dared accuse him of cheating.

Greg LeMond, the only American to win the Tour de Franc now that Armstrong and fellow cheater Floyd Landis have been stripped of their titles, was an early accuser of Armstrong.

He was warned not to cross Armstrong, and Armstrong offered a former LeMond teammate $300,000 to claim LeMond cheated.

Former friends, Betsy and her husband, Frankie Andreu, who also cycled with Armstrong, received threatening calls from another one of Armstrong's friends.

When they testified against Armstrong after overhearing him tell his cancer doctor he used human growth hormone and other drugs, the friendship ended and Frankie had trouble finding work in cycling.

Emma O'Reilly, a massage therapist, saw firsthand how Armstrong tried to beat testing. When she cooperated in a book about Armstrong's doping he called her a prostitute and an alcoholic.

The point to all this is that this guy was not just a cheater, but he lived a lie and tried to ruin anyone who dared expose him.

The cheating is one thing. Heck, it's harder to find someone in cycling who doesn't dope than it is an athlete who is clean, but what he did to others is beyond despicable.

He spent years vehemently denying he cheated, claiming he passed test after test — knowing he cheated to pass them.

Now, after he has been stripped of his titles and banned from competing, he wants to come clean and be allowed to compete again.

Too late.

You cannot do what he did without there being consequences.

If he hadn't been so arrogant and would have admitted his wrongdoing from the beginning, he probably would have been forgiven by now.

But he loved being the hero. The cancer victim who not only beat back the disease, but flourished.

There is one good thing that came from Armstrong's lies, Livestrong. The organization Armstrong led — until being dumped — has and will continue to help cancer victims.

It will survive Armstrong's misgivings.

The organization has raised millions to fight the disease, and as disappointed and angry and hurt as we are by Armstrong, we must acknowledge his good deed in starting this organization.

Among Armstrong's penalties is that his cheating scandal will hang around his neck like a noose.

The yellow bracelets sold by Livestrong are his version of the scarlet letter.

But despite all this, we must separate Armstrong from the Livestrong organization, because if we don't, there will be more victims.

I think there's been enough suffering.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.