Yesterday, the most famous man ever to ride a bike, Lance Armstrong, announced that he would no longer fight the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) accusations that he used performance enhancing drugs and techniques in his seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005. In response, the USADA today stripped Armstrong of all seven Tour titles and banned him from professional cycling competition for life.
Armstrong maintains his innocence, but the USADA says they have evidence from more than a dozen witnesses that the seven time Tour de France winner was doping, leaving Armstrong’s legacy and the fate of his popular cancer advocacy organization, Livestrong, up to the court of public opinion. Nike and other Armstrong sponsors have so far stood by Armstrong and donations to Livestrong have gone up significantly since his announcement that he would not go into arbitration with the quasi-governmental anti-doping agency.
Armstrong is far from alone; professional sports have a long history of scandals. From the Chicago White Sox players who intentionally lost games in the 1919 World Series, Pete Rose’s lifetime ban for betting on games to more modern scandals like Mark McGwire and other pro baseball players’ dalliances with steroids and Penn State’s legendary football coach Joe Paterno’s disgrace in the aftermath of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s child molestation trial, the world of sports is replete with controversy.
Where does Lance Armstrong fit into the history of sports scandals? Is his reputation as an American hero tarnished or bulletproof?
Roy Firestone, sports commentator and regular contributor to Good Day LA on Fox 11
Wayne Norman, Professor of ethics, Kenan Institute for Ethics and Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke University; he also blogs about philosophy, politics, sociology and economics through the common lens of sports at ThisSportingLife.net