Lance Armstrong: Blow to kids' idol, brings new respect for Dad(Read article summary)
Lance Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France medals today, and this household of cycling fans has equal parts disappointment with their former idol and respect for their dad who flirted with pro cycling and left because of the pressures of doping.
Today my four sons lost their heroÂ Lance Armstrong when the International Cycling Union agreed with US authorities on the charges heâ€™s both a doper and a pusher, stripping him of all seven Tour de France titles. Maybe thatâ€™s a good thing because they learned that their dad, who once had a shot at pro-cycling and shied from it because he feared the pressure of an ingrained doping circuit, was telling the truth and not just making excuses.
Learning that the International Cycling Union has stripped Lance Armstrong of his Tour de France titles for not only doping, but allegedly bullying teammates into doing the same, is like learning Superman doesnâ€™t hail from Planet Krypton and Clark Kent faked all his stories for the Daily Planet.
Mr. Armstrong denies doping, but chose not to fight USADA saying the process was biased against him. Now my boys roll their eyes at him and think he's the one making excuses. Our 18-year-old, whoâ€™s body has become a temple as he rows crew and who wants to be in law enforcement, is feeling particularly betrayed. â€śI believed in him. I really believed and it made me sick to know heâ€™s not just a doper, but a pusher as well,â€ť he said. â€śI feel stupid for holding on so long too. Iâ€™m just so angry at him.â€ť
For months my sons have sought the truth and fallen back on excuses such as, â€śWell heâ€™s done good things for cancer research.â€ť True. Thatâ€™s true, but if there were an International Parenting Union, we would have to flag that as well because he devastated the ability of any athlete to champion a cause by creating world-class doubts.
Our son Avery, 13, has gone into dejected shrug mode, â€śWell, he did win. I guess thatâ€™s something. He did amazing things, butâ€¦he cheated so they werenâ€™t really real.â€ť
Quin, 8, asked the tough one, â€śOK, so how do I know who to believe anymore?â€ť
Thinking about it, the dawn finally broke for me, â€śYou can trust the people you actually know: your father, brothers, and you can trust me,â€ť I said.
Since our eldest son was a toddler it has been our family tradition to watch the Tour de France and hear all of my husbandâ€™s insights from his school days of cycling. He was one of those guys shaped by the film 'Breaking Away' and later, after meeting some pro cyclists, he changed his life path because he believed what they told him back in the early 1980s about the pressures of doping.
Our kids have heard a hundred tellings of how heâ€™d wanted to be a pro cyclist, â€śBut I knew I could never live that kind of a lie.â€ť
Up until now the boys had rolled their eyes and thought their dad was just trying to rationalize his â€śfailing.â€ť He still cycles daily. He also sails in LaserÂ competitionsÂ and runs, but his dream never went the distance because he believed â€“ rightly so â€“ that he would have to compromise his values. What did Dad become? He became a designer Â for a major daily newspaper here in Virginia, to which he bikes like the roads of Norfolk are those on the Tour de France in Paris â€“ just with more potholes.
Today, the boys know the real winner was their dad and all the other athletes who chose not to dope or live a lie. They learned that winning isnâ€™t winning if it came dishonestly. Most importantly, they learned that no power on earth can strip you of the title of 'Honest Person' unless you let them.
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