Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's STILL not about the bike

By: Scott Stein, Vice President of Client Services, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

I like to ride my bikes. Admittedly, I haven’t been riding nearly as much the last few years for a variety of reasons, but I still consider myself to be a cyclist. I watch the Tour de France and other, lesser known, bike races on TV and I looked forward to the Superweek bike race when it used to come to Green Bay during the summer.

And yes, I was a fan of Lance Armstrong. In fact, I’m probably among the few who recall when he raced in Downtown Green Bay during the Superweek series in the late ‘90s (post-cancer, pre-Tour de France wins). He and his teammate used it as a training ride, disappearing from the race with several laps to go. My assumption is he just didn’t want the attention at that time.

Well, he certainly did get a lot of attention since then, winning the Tour de France seven times and creating the LIVESTRONG Foundation that has raised millions in the fight against cancer. Now, he’s just another disgraced athlete.

I recently tossed my Lance Armstrong book in the trash. Believe me, throwing a book away is not something I take lightly. But I felt betrayed. Even as it became more and more difficult to believe Armstrong’s denials of doping, like a lot of other people, I wanted to believe him. When he let it be known that he would not fight the USADA allegations, it was time for me to admit I had supported a cheater and liar for many, many years.

With Armstrong’s confession to Oprah this week, it would be easy to just write Armstrong off and delete him from my very short list of favorite athletes (Henry Aaron and Bart Starr among them), but there’s still the LIVESTRONG aspect.

One can’t deny that LIVESTRONG has done an amazing job in raising awareness of cancer programs. Armstrong did beat cancer and continues that fight. With his admissions this week, it’s been reported that Armstrong may want to compete again in triathlons. But maybe it’s time for him to ride into the sunset and hope that the LIVESTRONG Foundation can continue its fight despite the ways of it’s now disgraced founder.

Are you conflicted about Lance Armstrong? Can you continue to support the LIVESTRONG Foundation?   

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