Marion Jones. Cheater. Mark McGwire. Cheater. Ben Johnson. Cheater. Like those
disgraced athletes and many others who pumped cheat into their bodies to set
records, earn millions, and gain the adoration of the sports population, Lance Armstrong,
too, will forever have the word, "cheater", follow his name. Oh, he never failed a drug
test, but then again, neither did Jones or McGwire. He never admitted that he used
chemistry to help him reach heights never seen before in his sport. But most of them
never do, until there is overwhelming evidence against them and everybody but their
mother saw them stick needles in their bodies.
On Wednesday, Armstrong officially entered the Hall of Shame, joining the long list
of athletes who have been outed as performance-enhanced frauds. Nike, which named
a building after him on its campus and supported his cancer foundation, cut ties with him
swifter than Elin's farewell to Tiger Woods. Armstrong stepped down as chairman of
Livestrong, the very foundation he put on the map by raising millions of dollars for
cancer research. That foundation will now fall like a house of cards, because really,
nobody wants to give money to anything associated with cheating. It'd be akin to
pumping your hard earned cash into Bernie Madoff's firm shortly after he was caught
miking his investors out of billions. It's not wise, and it's certainly not good to be
associated with someone who is pariah.
When Armstrong bowed out of his fight against the USADA last month, many of
Armstrong's supporters said that a man can only take so much. After all, they said,
it's a witch hunt that's gone on for 10 years. Many still gave Armstrong a pass. However,
after the USDA released a massive amount of evidence against Armstrong, Nike said
good-bye and so did a lot of the support for Sir Lance.
There will be millions of people in this country who will still look past the transgressions
of Armstrong and point to all the good he did for cancer research. That's how many of
us are with celebrity, so intoxicated by it we can't see reality and the facts. We see
Armstrong smile and say all the right things on a 15-second soundbite on "SportsCenter"
and feel like we really know the man. He signs autographs, kisses babies, and poses for
a picture that you can post on Facebook. Oh, he looks like such a nice guy, we say,
and believe him just because of the image he portrays.
We said a lot of the same things about McGwire, didn't we? He'd sit in press conferences
with his cute, little kid sitting in his lap. He started a foundation for abused children
and made generous donations to it. We saw him as a great guy. Honest, dignified, and
even humble. He fooled us all, didn't he? McGwire broke the single-season home run
record, a mark that many thought was untouchable. And he didn't just break the record,
he shattered it with 70 home runs. 70! Are you kidding me?
Then Barry Bonds took a syringe to that standard and obliterated it with 73. Oh, and
Bonds never failed a drug test, either, but all one has to do is take a look at how he
turned into Arnold Schwarzneggar, another steroid user, at the age of 38, to know that
he wasn't just downing Flintstone vitamins. Heck, Alex Rodriquez looked Katie
Couric straight in the eye after being asked whether or not he used PED's, and the
Yankees lothario, flatly said, "no". How'd that turn out? A-Rod turned into A-Fraud.
The cheaters get caught eventually, they almost always do. They lie and deny for years,
but in the end, they get exposed for the frauds they are. Tyler Hamilton, a cyclist,
results were wrong. His excuse was that the positive result came from the blood of an
embryo of his twin that was lost before birth. Seriously, that was the excuse he gave to
investigators. He gets extra points for creativity. Hamilton eventually fessed up, lost
his medal, not to mention his reputation. Then he wrote a book about how Armstrong was
cheating. Floyd Landis failed, lied, denied, and then admitted what everybody knew,
that he was a cheat. Roger Clemens? We all know the story.
Armstrong's story pretty much ends like all the others who felt the need to get a little
extra something to achieve or sustain greatness. He is no longer a special athlete, but just
another one who tried to fool us all. There will be no more commercials, speaking
engagements, or even appearances on "The View". The view that Americans had of
Lance Armstrong changed forever on Wednesday. He is just another self-absorbed
athlete who tried to convince us that he was different. Lance Armstrong is not. He
has been branded as a cheater and all the "good" that he did for others will get lost
in the smear job that he did to himself. It may take a while, but in the end, the liars
and cheaters always get caught.