Before you crucify Lance Armstrong, take a moment to fully digest all the circumstances of his situation. His own unprecedented success has forced him to be the scapegoat for an entire culture. He is absolutely guilty of cheating, but so are so many others associated with the sport of cycling and its long history of performance-enhancing athletes. The man himself has actually never even failed a drug test, it's been retroactive drug testing, and countless accusations from people close to professional cycling that ultimately led to his demise.
We live in a society where it's commendable to divulge all incriminating information you may have against someone else when you yourself have been proven guilty of a crime. Where I come from that's referred to as "snitching". No, Lance Armstrong isn't a rapper and the rules of "street credibility" do not apply to him, but in contrast to his accusers his current stance seems much more respectable.
The world wants Lance to not only take responsibility for what he's done but to also expose all other parties who he may have information against. I for one respect the hell out of him for not discussing anyone but himself. If you get caught doing something wrong, man up and accept responsibility for it yourself. Giving up information about someone else isn't commendable at all, its actually quite cowardly. Its merely an attempt to move the spotlight off one self and onto another. In the case of Lance Armstrong it gave everyone an opportunity to fry the "bigger fish" because he is the most prominent figure in the history of the sport.
Don't be naïve and think that Mr. Armstrong is the only professional cyclist guilty of doping. Doping has been a large part of this sport's culture for decades. I'm sure he could've incriminated dozens of former and current riders, but for what? To satisfy the same people who are trying to crucify him now? Many of the cyclists who are presently viewed as "clean" are merely ahead of the curve when it comes to the testing for illegal substances. The tests either aren't advanced enough to detect them, or the substances themselves simply have yet to be deemed illegal.
What's bigger than doping, performance enhancing, or any of the allegations against Lance is what his foundation has done for cancer research. "Livestrong" has raised an unparalleled amount of money and awareness toward finding a cure for cancer, and being a cancer-survivor himself Lance Armstrong still serves as an inspiration for millions of cancer patients and survivors alike.
Forgive me for not condemning a professional athlete who's had one of his testicles removed for taking testosterone. Can that even honestly be considered performance enhancing? Should he be forced to compete with half the normal amount of such a vital hormone? Wouldn't things like eyeglasses and knee-braces technically be considered performance enhancing by those standards?
If he weren't such a prolific champion his test results would be insignificant. No one cares if Tyler Hamilton or Floyd Landis is guilty of doping because they simply aren't superstars. The media takes pleasure in building celebrity to ridiculous heights only to bring it crashing down at the first hint of controversy. Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Britney Spears, and now Lance is the media's latest victim.
A man's life is ultimately judged by the impact his actions have on the world. In the case of Lance Armstrong the good far outweighs the bad. I personally think the cycling world should be applauding him for bringing the sport more money and notoriety than it's ever seen rather than blackballing him. You can argue all day about who's guilty of doping and who isn't but the news of a cyclist even using PED's would be insignificant without the success of Lance Armstrong. He's the reason the sport is even relevant in the first place. That paired with the countless number of lives his foundation has impacted would allow me to sleep very well at night if I were Mr. Armstrong.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. He's definitely done wrong, but at one time or another so have we all. Maybe his lows are lower, but how many life changing opportunities have you created through your career and charitable organization? I can't look down my nose at Lance because I actually still look up to him. For his perseverance, determination, fearlessness, and for all the things his foundation has done and will continue to do in the future. Live Strong.
Follow Sharief Easterling on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@Carnegie_Kid