He said. She said. They said. The dog said. Enough already. Sheesh. I am so over this whole Lance Armstrong saga I could scream. Oh wait, I did that earlier.
Moving right along. Yesterday morning, I was stunned to hear that Armstrong was stepping down as chairman of the Lance Armstrong(Livestrong)foundation, the foundation he started in 1997 to help those affected by cancer. Even, the public relations major in me was surprised. 45 minutes later, I was stunned again when I learned that Nike had terminated its contract with Armstrong. Initially, I thought that meant they were cutting funding to Livestrong as well but I found out that is not the case. Nevertheless, I was stunned. Just a couple of months ago, after the Untied State Anti-Doping Agency(USADA) hit Armstrong with a lifetime ban and recommended that the be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, Nike firmly stood their ground and reaffirmed their commitment to Armstrong. And then the bomb dropped last Wednesday. That was the day the USADA released a 1,000 plus page document that details the elaborate doping scheme Armstrong was allegedly the ringleader of. Even my mouth dropped open on this one. I have been very staunch on my stance that Armstrong has never failed a test. However, in this era of steroids and performance enhancing drugs(PEDs), that is not very hard to do. Ever heard of “The Clear?” I do find it hard to believe that there are this many people who would conspire against Armstrong and tell blatant lies. At the same time, like I said, he has not failed a test. Who knows what to believe?!
What I do know for sure is that the same man who is being accused of this elaborate scheme is the same man who started a foundation that has raised over $500 million dollars for cancer research and awareness. Let me repeat that, FIVE HUNDRED MILLION. Look, if Armstrong did what they are accusing him of then he deserves to be banned. If there are consequences he has to suffer, then so be it. He does not get a pat on the back just because of his philanthropy. However,he does not deserve and most importantly, what those battling cancer do not deserve is to have Livestrong grouped into this mess. Regardless of how he established the platform to do it, the fact of the matter is that this man has literally revolutionized this world when it comes to cancer. Before 1997, cancer, in my opinion, was pretty taboo. I knew about it because my grandma had battled it but as a 16 year old, I did not really grasp the magnitude of this disease. Armstrong used the platform that he had at the time to shed light on this terrible disease and he did it in one of the simplest forms, he created a silicon gel bracelet. Who could have imagined that in 2004 when the Livestrong bracelet was introduced that it would literally become an international movement? I can distinctly recall going to numerous stores trying to find one only to be told over and over that they were sold out. The Livestrong craze was insane and eight years later, that tiny yellow bracelet is still an international phenomenon. This simple accessory has allowed people to connect in a way that does not even require you having a conversation about why they are wearing it.
For some, it is hard to separate the allegations from the charity. Armstrong typically rode in cycling gear outfitted with the words Livestrong. His gear was yellow, the main color of his foundation. Cycling, Armstrong and Livestrong go hand in hand. Until the bottom dropped out. It was not until the allegations surfaced that I think people really begin to separate one from the other. Yes, Armstrong started Livestrong but this foundation is much bigger than him and that is what I think is getting lost in this saga. There is a reason he stepped down. He knew the foundation was bigger than him. He knows Livestrong is about the mother who was told she only has six months to live. He knows Livestrong is about the four year old who has been battling cancer since he was two. He knows Livestrong is about the 65 year old grandmother who has been told she has breast cancer. Those people are who the foundation is about. Armstrong was the driving force behind what is now a bigger movement. And no matter what he said, she said, they said or the dog said, I will continue to wear my LIVESTRONG bracelet proudly. After all, it is not about me either.