Lance Armstrong overcame testicular cancer in 1996 and went on to win an unrivalled seven consecutive Tour de France’s between 1998 and 2005 before receiving a lifetime ban in 2012 for doping offences.Armstrong founded the Livestrong Foundation to provide support for cancer patients which has raised in excess of $1/2 billion dollars to date. He is one of the most recognisable faces on the planet.
Lance began competitive sport as a triathlete aged 16 winning US national championships before switching to professional cycling in 1992 and winning a series of Category 1 races in Europe before being diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996. With the cancer spreading to his brain and lungs he underwent brain and testicular surgery with extensive chemotherapy.
In February 1997 he was declared cancer free and later that year renewed his serious cycling training and joined the US Postal/Discovery Team. With US Postal/Discovery Team he won an unprecedented seven back to back Tour de France’s. Lance retired after his seventh Tour de France win in 2005 but returned to competitive cycling with the Astana team in January 2009 and finished third in the 2009 Tour de France.
In February 2011 Armstrong announced his retirement from competitive cycling, while facing a US federal investigation into doping allegations. In August 2012 the USADA announced a lifetime ban from competition on Armstrong, applicable to all sports which follow the World Anti-Doping Agency code, as well as the stripping of all his seven Tour de France titles won between 1998 and 2005.
The USADA report concluded that Armstrong enforced “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the sport’s governing body, announced its decision to accept USADA’s findings. Armstrong chose not to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and in January 2013 he admitted doping in a television interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey, despite having made denials throughout his career.
Lance’s story of gargantuan success achieved after his battle with cancer was for over ten years probably one of the most inspiring personal triumphs over adversity in sports history. Millions bought Lance’s books ‘It’s Not About The Bike’ and ‘Every Second Counts’ and took inspiration from them.Armstrong became one of the biggest names and a sponsors dream, living the life of a star, friends with US Presidents, married to singer Sheryl Crow and with Hollywood A-listers on call. He has in excess of 4 million followers on Twitter and many more wore the yellow Livestrong bracelets.
Lance Armstrong was one of the world’s most admired sportsmen and certainly one of three of the world’s most in-demand motivational speakers. He may have lost many of his fans but there are many that have benefitted from the work of the Livestrong Foundation and continue to support him because of the great deal he has done to inspire and support cancer sufferers.
Today Lance Armstrong has admitted what he did was wrong. He participated in an era of professional cycling where unfortunately the majority of cyclists used performance enhancing drugs. In losing his sponsors and also his prized yellow jerseys Armstrong has paid a high price for his involvement in cycling. There is no doubt that he was an incredible athlete before his Tour wins and there is no doubt that his raising awareness, hope and charity for cancer victims for millions of people has been a great achievement.
Armstrong owns a coffee shop in downtown Austin, Texas called Juan Pelota Cafe“. The name is a joking reference to his testicular cancer, with the name “Juan” being considered by some a homophone for “one” and “Pelota” being the Spanish word for “ball”. Out of the same building, Armstrong owns and operates a bike shop named “Mellow Johnny’s“, after another nickname of his derived from the Tour term “maillot jaune”, which is French for “yellow jersey.”
Today Lance now more than ever will be thankful that first and foremost he has lived to tell the tale.
Whichever way you look at Lance Armstrong his story of highs and lows; his millions of fans; Livestrong success; overcoming cancer; his rock star life and ultimately the loss and admittance of cheating to win can all be used to prevent others falling into the same traps. Cycling and other sports will hopefully benefit from the awareness his case has brought about the rampant use of drugs in sport that’s use goes undetected.
Lance has throughout his professional cycling career been one of the world’s most in-demand motivational speakers. Millions of people have benefitted from learning of his success in beating cancer and how he pushed his body to its limits and beyond. Those facts remain the same today.
"Whichever way you look at Lance Armstrong his story of highs and lows; his millions of fans; Livestrong success; overcoming cancer; his rock star life and ultimately the loss and admittance of cheating to win can all be used to prevent others falling into the same traps. Cycling and other sports will hopefully benefit from the awareness his case has brought about the rampant use of drugs in sport that's use goes undetected."