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Sports Column: Armstrong disappoints supporters
Lance Armstrong’s doping allegations aren’t a new story. They have circulated for almost two decades and are a defining story of a sport whose reputation has been permanently damaged by performance enhancing drugs.
Neil Macmillan, Ohio field hockey coach and an avid cycling fan, was a staunch supporter of Lance Armstrong and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. When Macmillan learned that Armstrong rode a Trek bike, he went out and bought a similar one.
He refused to buy into early claims of Armstrong’s wrongdoings or believe he was a part of the doping culture that came to light during the past decade.
But even Macmillan would admit that he was listening to only what he wanted to hear.
Macmillan picked up cyclist Tyler Hamilton’s book The Secret Race, which chronicled the Tour de France’s doping and scandals, as soon as it went on sale Thursday and finished it before the weekend began.
The book was somewhat of a tipping point for Macmillan, as all of the stories written were backed by investigations from the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
“To be honest, it’s very sad for me,” Macmillan said. “It’s because one of my heroes is no longer a hero.”
The fact that Armstrong raised more than $470 million for cancer awareness shouldn’t be overlooked. His foundation raised awareness and helped patients cope with a deadly, dreadful disease.
But were the people who donated to this charity misled? They donated to a cause backed by a man who achieved the highest level of performance, completely free of performance-enhancers. Only one of those narratives rang true when the dust settled.
Macmillan wants to continue to support the cause because the Lance Armstrong Foundation has done a great deal of good for many people and has meant a great deal to him. In 1999, his first year in the United States, he lost his mother to breast cancer.
“Once the Livestrong bands came out, I wore (mine) almost every single day until (Monday) for what it represented in the fight against cancer,” Macmillan said. “I still respect that mission, but I find it hard to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation as a bona-fide charity.”
The story of Lance Armstrong and his demise shouldn’t be an angry, vitriolic piece, but a story of the disappointment he’s caused countless people, like Macmillan, who truly believed in his story and the man he claimed to be.
“Everybody wants to know what I’m on,” Armstrong said in a Nike commercial aimed against doping in 2001. “…I’m on my bike, busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?”
I’m not on anything, Lance. I’m just really disappointed.
Christian Hoppens is a sophomore studying journalism and a sports writer for The Post. Are you disappointed in Lance Armstrong? Email Hoppens at email@example.com.