Mountains

He's Lance Armstrong - the man of steal

I couldn't watch. I couldn't listen to a man so arrogant and self-entitled, dispense his tale of woe.

Woe is him.

A cancer survivor, a hero, a bullet-proof athlete and supreme being. A man who was so indestructible and unbeatable that his dominance was almost laughable.

Lance Armstrong the cyclist was superman. Then he looked Oprah in the face and said he was a fraud.

Now, we all know that superman is really the man of steal. He stole seven Tour de France titles, stole an Olympic medal, stole the hopes and dreams of his competitors, but mostly he stole his image and the pedestal he stood upon.

He stole our hearts because we believed in him. Cancer survivor and amazing athlete. A man we found nearly impossible not to root for.

From high atop his pedestal, Armstrong flung arrows at his detractors and accusers.

He chastised people, filed lawsuits, and ruined lives and careers.

Then he said he was sorry. Sorry doesn't cut it.

For me, I never fully believed that Lance Armstrong was Mr. Clean. But I wanted to believe it. As a cyclist, chills hit me when I saw him taunt opponents with the cold eyes of an assassin, then with super-human strength bolt away leaving them gasping for air.

We were amazed.

Lance Armstrong was arguably the greatest sports story ever told. Cancer ravaged his body so badly that death was at his door. He would never push a pedal again. Diagnosed with cancer in October 1996, his cycling career was thought to be done. But in February 1997, he beat cancer and the comeback was on.

On the bike he was a legend. Off the bike he was an icon. But he was a con man. All along, he conned us.

He made an amazing, super-human return. He beat cancer. No, he destroyed it. He beat it with unmerciful determination. He left cancer mangled and beaten. Then he did the same to all his competitors from 1999 to 2005.

He owned the sport of cycling. He owned us.

He was the greatest athlete and humanitarian that we could imagine.

When he left the bike, he encouraged cancer patients to fight. Fight like him, beat cancer like he did. He was a beacon of hope off the bike and a lightning bolt of power on the bike. He was the definition of determination both on and off the bike.

Now the truth has come spurting out like a plunged syringe.

He's a doper and has always been a doper.

In 2000, after his phenomenal first Tour de France victory, Armstrong's book "It's not about the bike" was published. It wasn't about the bike. It's never been about the bike. It's always been about Lance Armstrong and his insatiable ego.

I feel a little hypocritical because I didn't want to believe all those accusations. He passed more than 500 drug tests. How is it possible that he could pass every single drug test if he was doping?

But in a sport where world-class cyclists are getting booted for doping after nearly every race, how could Armstrong be so good, so strong, so unbeatable without using performance enhancing drugs?

He's Lance Armstrong - that's what I told myself. I didn't want to believe that he doped. It ruined the story.

The fact that he lied, cheated and pumped more drugs into his body than a heroin addict angers me. But even more, it's the man's super-human arrogance and ego that bothers me.

The ferocity in which he attacked his accusers over the years truly shows his absolute lack of integrity.

I read a book 10 years ago from an author that followed Armstrong and his team throughout the Tour de France. That book opened my eyes to what kind of a "flawed character" Armstrong was and is.

In those chapters, you could see that he was a bully and a jerk.

Not even I could simply chalk it up to supreme competitiveness.

But when the Tour de France rolled around, I was in his corner. He was an American dominating a sport universally adored and previously dominated by Europeans. I root for the USA whenever I can.

I rooted for Lance and marveled at his dominance.

I rooted for his Livestrong Foundation and proudly wore the yellow bracelet for years.

Armstrong remains the most famous cancer survivor the world has ever seen. His work in bringing money and awareness to fighting the disease has been an unquestionable asset.

But Lance Armstrong is a liar and a cheat. It's one thing to lie, it's another thing to ruin lives, stab friends in the back and bully anyone who ever questioned him.

He would flash his trademark anger whenever an accusation would rise. And he would be believable. He never failed a drug test. He must be telling the truth. He would always have the how-dare-you-question-me attitude and response. The great and powerful Lance Armstrong can't be questioned.

But now the curtain is gone and we see the real Lance Armstrong.

His admission that he used drugs throughout his cycling career didn't shock me. I was actually waiting for this day.

Every cyclist who has gotten busted for using drugs has lied, denied and eventually got fried for that decision.

Poetic justice? Way more. There's nothing poetic about Armstrong's fall from grace.

Lance Armstrong is getting what he deserves.

After more than a decade of being a bully, a jerk, a liar and mostly a gutless, arrogant punk fueled by ego and chemical concoctions, Armstrong needs to drift to the back of the pack.

There's a term used in cycling when a cyclist falls far behind. It's called getting dropped. Armstrong has been dropped by all his sponsors, all his fans and all his supporters.

He needs to be dropped.

He lied to everyone. I don't think he even believes he lied to itself. After all, he's Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor and superman.

I feel no sorrow for him. I feel sorry for the men and women he targeted, he bullied, he ruined and he sued.

Mostly, I feel sorry for the millions of cancer survivors who believed that Lance Armstrong was indeed superman.

My hope is that the Livestrong Foundation continues to be strong in the wake of its founder's flaws.

Cancer survivors have long looked to Armstrong for strength, inspiration and hope.

Today, Armstrong stands before us a broken man with extreme flaws.

He needs to be dropped. But for all those facing the daunting future of a cancer diagnosis and those who have survived the disease - live happy, live well and live strong.

You are not Lance Armstrong's legacy. You are your own legacy.

Lance has been dropped. The man of steal is gone. Good riddance.

Dale Shrull is the editor of the Cortez Journal.

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