They banned him from cycling for life.
They stripped him of his record setting seven Tour de France titles.
He lost all of his sponsorships and millions of dollars along with it.
But should we be so harsh in our judgments of Lance Armstrong?
In a sport where doping was so rampant, Armstrong was still dominant. He was without question the best athlete in his sport.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) has decided to leave the 1999-2005 Tour de France titles vacant rather than replace them with the runner-up. The reason? Too many other cyclists have either tested positive for a banned substance, admitted to using a banned substance, or have been sanctioned for doping at some point in their career.
Here is the real eye opener. In the 1999-2005 Tours a minimum of four and as many as eight of the top 10 finishers were linked to doping of some kind. The biggest shocker came in Armstrong’s seventh Tour win. Nine of the top 11 finishers are linked to performance enhancing drug use, including each of the top seven finishers. In fact, according to this link doping of some sort has existed in the sport since the early 1900’s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doping_at_the_Tour_de_France
I understand what the UCI and the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) are trying to do. They want to make an example of somebody. And Lance Armstrong is the biggest example of them all. But in my view, he was without a doubt the best cyclist in the race in each of those years.
Doping didn’t win him those races. His countless hours of working out and training on his bike won him those races. Did doping give him the advantage? It might have. But if you believe the report to the link I posted, the competition he beat were mostly all dopers too. An even playing field.
Armstrong did more for the sport of cycling in America than anyone could ever imagine. Did I watch Lance Armstrong every summer in the Tour de France? You bet I did. Have I watched it since his last ride in the race? Not at all.
But because of Armstrong, I know who guys like Frank and Andy Schleck are. I know who Cadel Evans, Jan Ulrich, Robbie McEwen and Ivan Basso are.
Armstrong should not be a role model and should not be seen as an American hero. But in my opinion, he should be viewed as a seven time champion of the Tour de France.