Throughout the beginning of the 2000’s there was perhaps no more beloved and famous athlete on the planet than Lance Armstrong. The guy was almost the sole reason why people cared about cycling and won seven consecutive Tour de France’s. He was a legend of the sport, but his legacy and good name was stripped from him during a doping scandal that revealed he had been taking banned substances for his entire career. Here I will take a look at his meteoric rise to fame and his subsequent fall from grace.
At the age of 16, Lance Armstrong had the start to his athletic career as he began competing as a triathlete and was a national champion in 1989 and 1990. After this, Armstrong decided to focus solely on cycling and become a professional in the year of 1992 with team Motorola. Between the years of 1993-1996, he had very good success winning world championships and other events. However, in 1996, life dealt him a hand he was not expecting. He was diagnosed with a potentially fatal form of testicular cancer.
This put him out of commission for 2 years until 1998, when he was able to renew serious training for his cycling career. During his time off and during his recovery, he founded the Livestrong foundation to help other victims of cancer and raised millions. You couldn’t walk down the street in the early to mid-2000s without seeing one of those yellow Livestrong bracelets.
His career got right back where it left off before his diagnosis and he actually was better than ever. Armstrong won seven straight Tour de France’s from 1998 to 2005, and even medalled in the Olympics. He was not only easily the most popular and famous cyclist, he was among the biggest names in the sports world. He officially retired in 2005, but had an attempt at a return which lasted a few years until finally retiring for good in 2011.
For the entirety of his career, Armstrong was the subject of doping allegations but had never admitted to it and never tested positive. However, in 2012, a USADA investigation concluded that not only had he been using PEDs throughout his career, he was also the ringleader of a widespread doping program in the sport. As a result, he was banned for life and forced to relinquish all of his achievements after 1998, including his seven Tour de France wins. For a while, Armstrong didn’t contest the charges and finally, in 2013, he admitted that some of the allegations against him were true, but didn’t get into the extent of his drug use of involvement.
His fall from grace is without one of the (if not the) biggest in sports history. The guy was idolized by millions and was a source of motivation and inspiration for cancer survivors all over the world and this scandal will stand out in sports history forever.