Why I took off my Livestrong band

After 6+ years, the yellow band is off

The fairy tale was too good to be true after all. A cancer survivor returns to win one of the sport’s most grueling events seven time in a row.

I was sad when I heard that Lance Armstrong had been stripped of his 7 Tour De France titles and banned from the sport of cycling last year.  However, it still felt like it was the result of a years long witch hunt and Lance had finally just decided it wasn’t worth the fight anymore. I still believed Lance was innocent of the charges of doping because he continued to deny all of the charges against him.

In 2006, I felt so strongly about Lance Armstrong and his inspirational comeback from cancer and amazing feats in cycling that I was moved to write this blog post when his name was seemingly cleared of all of the doping allegations against him at the time.

When Lance was in the middle of the near constant allegations that he was doping while winning all those Tour De France titles, he was confident, insistent, consistent, and quite frankly, he was arrogant. His answer was always “No, I was clean, I did not dope.” He wove a web of lies so long and so intricate, all of the world’s spiders would be proud. He would publicly denounce his detractors and accusers, often counter attacking them by bullying them with his fame, power, and money – suing them in the court of law for their allegations of doping that they brought up against the mighty, heroic Lance Armstrong. He often proudly stated that he was the most tested athlete in history and that he was always cleared… even though he now admits that he used an intricate system of blood transfusions to cheat his way thru all those clean tests.

This week, he sat down with Oprah Winfrey and took it all back. Yes, he actually did dope, take banned substances, blood boosters, transfusions, human growth hormone during all of his Tour Wins.

So, in the end, I took off my Livestrong bracelet this week, after wearing it every single day for over 6 years. I had worn it to support cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, I wore it to support Nuggets Coach George Karl a two-time survivor, and his son Cobey Karl. I had worn it to support people fighting cancer anywhere. I was making a public statement by supporting an amazing movement to raise awareness and money for cancer research so that one day there can be a cure – nearly half a billion dollars of good has been generated by this LIVESTRONG movement.

Why did I take off the bracelet? Its not because he cheated to win those Tours, actually. I know enough about cycling to know that there was a ton of this kind of thing going on back then. It was the calculated and repeated lies that took this hero of a man off that pedestal I and many, many others had placed him on for so many years.

I don’t want to be associated with Lance Armstrong anymore as he starts the process of apologizing to the world and all the individuals that he hurt along the way as he tried to protect his false legacy. Unfortunately this means supporting LIVESTRONG also has to go, in my eyes. I do hope the people that continue to run that organization do amazing things and keep raising millions of dollars to help bring an end to cancer. It’s just no longer for me. For a few days, this bugged me, but I found a worthy new outlet where I can continue to support the fight against cancer: RamStrength! RamStrength is a growing, non-profit providing financial assistance to cancer survivors to Fort Collins (home of my alma mater – CSU) and Northern Colorado. Check them out and donate today if you feel like it! Thanks for listening, and for my son who might just read this someday, even though 2 out of the 3 heroes I listed back in 2006 are definitely no longer worthy of that title… hopefully I’m teaching you enough to find your own heroes out in the world and just maybe be one yourself!

A few good links:

A summary of the conversation with Oprah from ESPN.com

Did Lance quit the fight to hide more dirt?

I’m not the only one who feels letdown, and betrayed:

Rick Reilly, an ESPN columnist who defended Lance for 14 years

Buzz Bissinger, a Pulitzer Prizer winnder,  sure was fooled

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