Tuesday, September 4, 2012

1 comments David Whitley Does Not Believe in the Greater Good

We all know by now that Lance Armstrong decided to stop fighting the government's lawsuit against him and has accepted the United States Anti-Doping Agency's lifetime ban. I'm sure some people (ahem, Rick Reilly) will think Armstrong just stopped fighting the ban to move on with his life, while there are others who (rightly in my opinion) believe Armstrong accepted the lifetime ban because he is truly guilty of doping to win his seven Tour de France titles. This inevitably brings to the public discussion whether the money he raised for cancer research is tainted like his Tour de France titles are tainted. I don't think this is true. We have writers who are acting as if Lance Armstrong helped to fund cancer research with blood money or money gotten from robbing banks. David Whitley is one of those asking if the end justifies the means.

I see two Lance Armstrongs. There is the racer who I personally don't like because I find him to be sort of smug, fake and...I can't really put my finger on it exactly, but I just don't really like him as a racer. Then there is the Lance Armstrong who has done a ton for cancer research and that Armstrong I really like. I've heard the arguments about how you can't separate the two. I realize Armstrong achieved his fame from beating cancer, but I don't think this is a case of him committing a severe crime to help fund cancer research. He cheated, got fame, and used his fame for a positive. That's how I see one part of Lance Armstrong. I'm not downplaying Armstrong's doping, but in the grand scheme of things cheating to win a few Tour de France titles isn't overshadowed by what Armstrong has done for cancer research. It doesn't make his doping right, of course. Cheating in sports is very serious and we are all very disappointed in Armstrong, but his record in cancer funding stands alone, away from this disappointment. I am able to separate these two Lance Armstrongs from each other.

After seven Tour de France wins, hundreds of drug tests and thousands of accusations, you knew this day was coming.

The day Lance Armstrong finally, sort-of admitted he was doping. Well, everyone but Rick Reilly was prepared for this day to eventually come.

It’s time to decide if the ends justify the means with Lance Armstrong.

What a dramatic statement. It's more simple than asking this question though. This isn't like a dictator who steals from his other countries to give food to his starving people. Yes, that is wrong, but there is a clear loser in that situation. This isn't a case where there is a tangible loser and winner. Lance Armstrong really only hurt himself with his doping. Cycling lost its integrity a long time ago. Yes, we are disappointed at what a fraud Lance Armstrong turned out to be, but he certainly did something positive with his fraudulent actions. For me, this isn't a case of the end necessarily justifying the means and I won't excuse his doping. I always thought Lance Armstrong was doping since I began to read about the smoke surrounding him on this issue. There is a history of cyclists doping, so a person had to be somewhat suspicious when Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles. I knew how Armstrong got his fame, how he won the Tour de France, and I didn't really like him for that. What he did with his ill-begotten fame caused me to separate the Lance Armstrong that won the races and the Lance Armstrong that raised money for cancer research.

The ends are the $470 million he’s raised for cancer research. The means are Armstrong did it by cheating.

I disagree in a way. Maybe I'm splitting hairs, but he raised $470 million for cancer research through hard work and dedication to the cause. Armstrong helped raise the awareness through his high profile as a cyclist, but he could have raised money for cancer research even if he had never won a Tour de France. Granted, winning seven Tour de France races helped $47 million become $470 million.

Armstrong will forever claim he was getting railroaded. But this is a man who never met a fight he didn’t like. Now he’s given up.

I consider him to have doped, just like I considered him to have doped since I heard it was a possibility. I don't think Armstrong was being railroaded. I think the US Anti-Doping Agency knew they had sufficient proof he had doped to win the Tour de France. He cheated to win the Tour de France, but he also did something good with his fame. That's more than a lot of other guys who doped can say.

“I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours,” Armstrong said in a statement, “and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours.”

This is what I am talking about when I say he is smug. He is essentially saying he cheated by accepting the lifetime ban, but then he has to be a dick and remind everyone he won seven Tour de France races as if he was on an equal playing field with the other racers. It's like if Melky Cabrera released a statement saying, "I was the All-Star Game MVP and won the batting title and everyone I competed against knows this is true." I'm not sure Armstrong understands the irony of accepting the ban and then reminding everyone he really did win those seven Tours.

Armstrong sued to block the case, but his suit was rejected Monday. Instead of having the world listen to all the testimony, he’s decided to wrap himself in victim-hood and let his legacy fall where it may.

I don't believe Armstrong is wrapping himself in victim-hood. He's trying to keep his legacy intact by being the Lance Armstrong I find distasteful. I don't like how Armstrong just can't admit he was doping. If his acceptance of the lifetime ban isn't an indication enough Armstrong was doping, I don't know of a stronger indication other than outright admitting it. This is the Lance Armstrong I don't like, sanctimonious and smug until the very end, insisting on his innocence while his actions speak otherwise.

But on top of all the circumstantial evidence, I just can’t believe that all those ex-teammates and drug bureaucrats are simply conspiring to bring Lance down.

Very true. At a certain point it becomes such a vast conspiracy where the conspirators seem to lack the motivation required to continue the conspiracy.

So we’re back to the question. Ends vs. Means.

It's a fun argument and gets pageviews, but I still see them as two separate issues. Armstrong the racer is a cheater and doper. Armstrong the cancer activist used his fame to bring millions into the fold for cancer research. His gains on the track may be ill-begotten, but what he did with his fame and story is nothing short of making him a hero in the realm of cancer research. I don't think his crime of doping is so strong that it overshadows his accomplishments when not riding a bicycle.

You still can’t go a day without seeing at least one person wearing a yellow Livestrong wristband. We all have friends or relatives who’ve been affected by cancer and by Lance.

Right, and the fact he has raised so much money for cancer research doesn't mean his doping is justified, but it also doesn't mean his doping overshadows what he has done for cancer research.

Is he still a hero, regardless of how it was accomplished?

In terms of what he has done for cancer research and awareness, yes, he is still somewhat of a hero.

All that good was by-product of Armstrong’s original goal of being the best cyclist in the world.

Oh absolutely it was and that's why I understand when others have trouble distinguishing between Armstrong the racer and Armstrong the cancer money raiser person. I get it. His fame from being such a great cyclist helped him raise money for cancer. Armstrong could have raised money for cancer research and awareness even if he never returned to cycling. Granted, he probably wouldn't have raised so much money, but the public received a benefit of Armstrong's cheating. I'm not justifying his actions, but there was good that came from his doping.

None of that would have happened if he hadn’t zipped through the Alps faster than anyone else. So when Armstrong plays the selfless martyr, remember the gig pays pretty well.

Absolutely it paid well. This issue about Lance Armstrong has become a completely black and white issue. The media and the general public are at fault for this. The reaction to criticism of Armstrong tends to be strongly favorable or unfavorable. He's a cheater who used his fame to raise cancer research and this makes him a bad person or he is a hero who never cheated and his being persecuted by the United States government. I see the shades of gray. He's a cheater who used his winnings to enrich his bank account as well as help others. I can't call him a hero and I can't call him a complete fraud.

I don’t know who finished second in all those Tours. But you can be sure they got up today, read the news and feel Armstrong did them wrong.

He did do these people wrong, but this has nothing to do with the ends justifying the means to me. If Armstrong had finished second or third in those races and never doped, he still would have had a chance to raise money for cancer research. His profile absolutely was increased by constantly winning the Tour de France, but he still could have accomplished increasing cancer awareness by not doping. Coming back from cancer and almost winning the Tour de France a few times is still an inspirational story that would have caused money for cancer research to be contributed. Armstrong wanted to win, so he cheated.

Part of the reason I can separate the racer from everything else about Armstrong is because he could have made a difference in the realm of cancer research by not winning the Tour de France. I see his bank account as increasing because of winning the Tour de France, but I see his increasing cancer awareness as a product of his fight against the disease.

If that bad is justified by the overall good, somebody needs to call Barry Bonds, Melky Cabrera, Mark McGwire, Ben Johnson and Marion Jones. Tell them that if they start doing tons of charitable good, all is forgiven.

All is not forgiven. This is where the shades of gray are being ignored. Nothing is forgiven in terms of Armstrong's doping, but his contributions to cancer awareness aren't overshadowed by his cheating in cycling. Armstrong did good with his fame. It doesn't mean he is forgiven, it means we can't simply erase all the good he has done.

“We have a lot of work to do, and I’m looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction,” Armstrong said.

Again, he is smug and sort of annoys me. Just admit it.

They can take away his Tour de France wins, but the good Armstrong has done is undeniable.

Now we just have to accept it was all built on a lie.

The good Armstrong did is not built on a lie. It was built on his good intentions. We can all win on this issue. Armstrong loses his Tour de France titles for being a cheater, but everyone wins because he contributed so much to cancer research and awareness.


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