Survivor Lance became cycling’s cancer

Irish listeners certainly enjoyed Ger Gilroy’s recent sparring session with Lance Armstrong on ‘Off The Ball’ – I know I did! It was a fascinating insight into a man who will go down as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, cheats in the history of sport.

  Lance Armstrong the American cyclist, cheated, bullied and doped his way to SEVEN Tour de France victories. He also left human destruction everywhere he went and attempted to belittle journalists and other mere mortals who had the audacity to get in his way.

  Cycling fans may have been left hurt and betrayed by his actions on the tour, but there were others who felt a deeper disappointment. You see, Lance Armstrong is a cancer survivor and he wrote a book about his diagnosis, treatment and remarkable recovery. This book gave people a lot of hope, and won him millions of fans worldwide. These fans, some of whom had no knowledge of cycling, were there because they believed this was an honest, hard-working survivor they could look up to to.

  I’ll never forget the day my own mother – who was diagnosed with cancer 16 years ago – came into the living room raving about the book in 2003. “You should read this, God it’s so inspiring!” I did and it was. The mother raved about him for years and it took her a while to accept that he was a cheat; I suppose it’s hard to lose a hero at any age.

  That’s why I believe the only way Lance should be invited to appear on a stage in Dublin, or anywhere else, is in a situation where the hosts are willing to grill him about his past, or if he is willing to be open and frank about cheating. He doesn’t seem to show genuine remorse and has even admitted to displaying ‘his’ seven yellow jerseys on the walls of his house.

  Despite all this, Lance can still save his legacy somewhat, but he has to be willing to sit down and open up about every facet of his doping to a public who once idolised him. More importantly, he also has to show complete contrition to those he hurt and that’s something that I believe is beyond him.

  In the meantime, he’ll continue to show up at events where he will hopefully be taken on by journalists like Ger Gilroy, David Walsh and Paul Kimmage. After a few years he’ll fade into obscurity and this is what I believe will hurt him more than any punishment meted out by the United States Anti-Doping Agency or the UCI. It’s then we may see a ‘remorseful’ Lance Armstrong, probably in the shape of a new book.