Lance Armstrong Cyclist: Will He Ever Be Allowed in Sports Again?


USA Today reported that Lance Armstrong was going to participate in a swimming competition, which will be held at the University of Texas. This competition will feature swimmers between the ages of 40 to 44. The U.S. Masters Swimming event is not under the umbrella of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). After the announcement that he was included in the event, the International Swimming Federation, which oversees the competition, stepped in and put an end to Armstrong’s planned comeback, according to the New York Times

Although he is banned from participating in sport events that are under the auspices of the USADA, Armstrong continues to hope that he may be allowed to return to “top level sports” once again. Armstrong admitted that he took banned substances while he was winning the Tour de France. Since doping remains a serious problem in the world of sports, allowing Armstrong to return to competitive sports would send the wrong message. Therefore, Armstrong should not be permitted to resume a career in professional sports.

The Tour de France, the most grueling cycling event in the world, has been won mostly by Europeans during most of its history. In 1986, Greg Lemond, who went on to capture three titles, became the first American and “non-European” champion. By seeking to win the competition in his own right, Armstrong was trying to replicate the success of Lemond.

Armstrong’s career in the Tour de France could be divided in two phases: a pre-cancer diagnosis career and a post-cancer career. Before he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, Armstrong best finish in the competition was 36th. After his successful battle with cancer, Armstrong became the most decorated cyclist in the history of the event. He won seven consecutive Yellow Jerseys. Even more remarkable, Armstrong earned those titles at a time when doping was rampant among the cyclists. In other words, the cancer survivor won arguably the most demanding physical cycling event not one time, not two times, not even three times but seven consecutive times against many competitors who took banned substances while he, himself, was completely clean.

Although his accomplishments required super human ability, few questioned Armstrong’s astonishing feats. In order to prevent himself from being exposed, Armstrong not only refuted doping accusations, but set out to intimate, if not bully, anyone who leveled those charges. During this campaign of intimidation, he tried to upend the lives of many people who dared to share his secrets to the public.

Unfortunately for Armstrong, he could not intimidate the USADA from launching a comprehensive investigation. The exhaustive inquiry revealed that Armstrong had a long history of doping. Seeing the proverbial handwriting on the wall, Armstrong decided to come clean after years of strong denials. The findings of the investigation not only exposed him as a cheat, but greatly damaged his lucrative career as a corporate pitchman.  

By coming forward, therefore, Armstrong has three goals that he seeks to achieve.  First, it is always difficult for top athletes to say goodbye to competitive sports. In this regard, Armstrong is no different than many other athletes who still want to keep going even in the twilight of their careers; second, his admission also seems like an attempt to maintain his viability as a corporate pitchman; more importantly, however, he admitted guilt because he is trying to protect himself from being sent to jail for the offenses that he committed. Therefore, a strong case could be made that he is not really sorry for what he did; but he is merely trying to save himself from being prosecuted for perjury

As a cancer survivor, Armstrong will always be an inspiration to millions of people, especially to those who are battling this terrible illness. Doping, however, is still a serious issue in professional sports since many athletes are taking performance-enhancing drugs to enhance their competitiveness. Hence, officials at the USADA made the right decision by banning Armstrong from professional sports.