Lance Armstrong’s recent fall from grace points to a larger problem in cycling culture.
This past Monday, the International Cycling Union (UCI) which is responsible for administering and promoting cycling, stripped Armstrong of seven Tour de France titles.
After extensive research and testing was carried out by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), it’s indisputable that Armstrong did cheat through steroid usage.
This is undeniably wrong and it’s justified that disciplinary action was taken against him.
However, the strong language the Union released condemning Armstrong goes a step too far.
The organization has chosen to put the spotlight on Armstrong’s wrongdoings instead of addressing the overarching doping culture in the sport.
Armstrong shouldn’t be completely demonized for what he did.
Through his charitable endeavors, his sports sponsorships, and his inspirational journey fighting cancer, he has done more for cycling than any other athlete in the sport.
Armstrong has raised millions of dollars for cancer research through his LIVESTRONG charity, using his celebrity status for the greater good.
Armstrong’s doping charges indicate a larger, more troubling trend in cycling.
While cyclists give their whole life to the sport, training night and day to be the best they can be, it’s become evident that many feel the need to dope in order to maintain a competitive edge.
It would be interesting to see what would happen if the UCI commissioned tests for all of the other athletes that placed well in the Tour de France. How many of them would also be found guilty of doping?
In stripping these titles from Armstrong, the UCI should take broader steps to address the problem of doping in the larger culture.
This could mean stricter anti-doping tests prior to and after races or stronger punishments against all athletes who have used performance-enhancing drugs.
Ultimately, the stripping of Armstrong’s titles should lead to a larger cultural shift in cycling to combat doping — a shift that should ultimately be spearheaded by the UCI.
— Journal Editorial Board
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