With the Tour de France in full swing, we’re likely to see other cycling related stories surface over the next few weeks, some of which will be interesting, and others will just try to capitalize on the one time of year when the sport takes center stage, even for non-cycling fans. But Esquire has published a great article that takes a look at Lance Armstrong’s life in exile, not only from the sport that he once dominated, but from the foundation that he created, and the limelight that once followed him everywhere.
The article is not only a good read for cycling fans, but those who were (or still are) fans of Lance himself. It paints a picture of a man who is unrepentant about his use of performance enhancing drugs while competing in the Tour de France. Something he was so good at, he won the race on seven consecutive occasions. For the sport at that time, doping was just a part of the culture, and in order to win, you had to use something.
But that isn’t to say that Lance doesn’t have regrets. He does come across as being sorry for the way that he treated people on the way up, and on the way back down. He ruined people’s lives as he attacked anyone who dared to speak out against him, or accuse him of doping. Armstrong was relentless in his defense, and ruthless when on the attack. The same traits that helped him to win in the toughest bicycle race in the world, were put to good use in denying his guilt as well.
Since his ultimate downfall a year and a half ago, Lance has tried to make amends with those that he hurt along the way. He has personally apologized to most of the people that he attacked, and has tried to show contrition for his actions. He doesn’t regret using the PEDs, but he does have regrets for how he treated others over the past decade and a half.
He also misses being a part of the Livestrong Foundation, an organization that he created, and was ultimately forced out of. That organization has lost much of its funding since Lance left, not to mention some of its direction. But there are indications that Livestrong is ready to welcome Armstrong back, and give him a purpose again.
The article indicates that Lance spends much of his time these days playing golf, and looking for things to occupy his time. Banned from competing even in local races, he seems to have little in the way of direction. This is a man who loves to compete, and without that competition he seems a bit lost.
But this isn’t a story about a fallen hero. It’s about a man, both flawed and inspiring, who has had is life completely altered, and is looking to find some meaning as he moves forward. You won’t feel sad for him, but you may come to understand him just a bit more.
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