Response to Armstrong’s ‘doping’ is out of proportion

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Photo by Patrick Smith

When I was in the third grade, we were taking a math test. I was never good at math, but I had studied and studied and studied and was confident. So that day, I walked into math as ready as could be and saw one of my classmates rifling through papers with a dismayed look on his face. He was even worse at math than I was, and knowing that he would have done the same for me, I told him that I’d let him look off my paper during the test.

Granted, this was cheating, but it was much more than that, I told myself. It was a friend helping another friend in need, something that is supposed to be a good thing. So during the test, we helped each other and all was going well. That is, until the teacher saw us.

She marched over with a stern look in her eye; she took our tests and ripped them up in front of the whole class, as was “customary” in her classroom. Although it came at the cost of humiliation and a poor grade, that day I made  a bond with my classmate that was far deeper than a test score. I had helped him out in his time of need, and although I had done so by cheating, I had aided somebody.

Repeatedly, parents, teachers and coaches have said to “play by the rules,” not stooping to the level of cheaters. Children are raised with ideologies implanted in their heads telling them that cheating is wrong, and it should never be resorted to, not even in the most dire situations.

But in light of the revelations from Lance Armstrong, I wonder if cheating itself really is for the worst.

Armstrong recently admitted to “doping”, or in layman’s terms, using performance enhancing drugs, throughout his career. The seven-time Tour de France Gold Medalist was stripped of his medals from 1998 to present. His performance referred to as “the greatest deception in all of sports history,” Armstrong appeared in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, discussing his admitted “doping.”

In the interview, which aired last week, Armstrong was said to have come surprisingly prepared, which in my mind would have been no less than the bare minimum for him to do, as he already had testified in front of a grand jury regarding the matter.  If Armstrong had even phrased a single sentence poorly, his case could have been subject to reevaluation, causing him to face years in prison for perjury. In the midst of all this, Armstrong is also currently occupied with potential lawsuits from his sponsors who have paid for his cycling team and his endorsements for years.

All for simply cheating.

This entire fiasco has been blown entirely out of proportion. Countless times, people have been made famous for “cheating”; in fact, we glorify it. Turn your television to Cartoon Network and you’ll find dozens of shows celebrating law-breaking vigilantes who disregard rules set forth by the government and take matters into their own hands: Batman, Iron Man, Spider-man — the list may very well be endless.

We project these two-dimensional, comic book icons as images of justice and goodwill, yet polls show we revile Armstrong, a human being with foibles and hubris, a professional cyclist whose Livestrong campaign raised more than $470 million, for doing  smack.

People thrive on hope, end of story. It builds businesses, campaigns, marriages … everything. In the end, it doesn’t matter what activates the hope or whether or not it was inspired unlawfully — what matters is that the hope was even there to begin with.

Yes, Lance Armstrong cheated throughout almost all of his cycling career. That may change the opinions of many regarding him as a person and what he has stood against, but what cannot be changed is the hope that he gave millions when he beat cancer and won the first of his Tour de France titles. Granted, he did this last part illegally, but that doesn’t change his comeback from cancer.

Imagine if tomorrow, NASA announced they had “cheated” in the Space Race. Would we run NASA through the dirt? Sue them? Maybe burn their headquarters down? Hopefully not, because their achievements gave us a feeling of accomplishment as Americans, a feeling of unity, and they still helped contribute to the greater good of our country, which in a way, is exactly what Lance Armstrong did. His is only one of the many cases where the ends justified the means.

By George Sarafianos

This opinion piece is labeled as such on the desktop version.

Do you agree? Does turning a blind eye to cheating really matter? I want to know your thoughts.

5 Responses to Response to Armstrong’s ‘doping’ is out of proportion

  1. Humera Lodhi January 24, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    well-written, but not sure i agree :) … regardless, good article!!

    Reply
  2. No justification January 24, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Except you failed to take into account the worst of his actions. Not only did he disregard the rules, but more importantly he disregarded the truth . He had the arrogance to sue a litany of people even though they were telling the truth about his doping & he knew it. And he hurt SO many people in the process: his teammates, his ex-wife, his children, etc. Your cheating, or more accurately helping another cheat, was intended to benefit another. His cheating only benefitted himself temporarily… before it completely destroyed his life and his reputation. There is no comparison. And there is no justification for his actions.

    Reply
    • You Missed The Point January 31, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      I think the author’s point is not that Armstrong is innocent. Rather, it is that we are blowing it out of proportion. In 2012 alone, nine other professional bicyclists were caught committing the same offense as Armstrong. Can you name any of them? We are treating Armstrong with unfair animosity due to his success.

      Reply
      • No justification February 3, 2013 at 2:22 pm

        Looks like I’m going to have to reiterate the same point I just made. None of those people (which totals to more than 9 actually) sued others for trying to expose them and lied repeatedly over such a long time span. Lance Armstrong admitted that he vehemently denied doping because he felt the pressures of his reputation and had the resources to create a cover-up. Therefore, it is pointless for the author to picture others with lesser reputations in the same situation. There is no justification for his complete disregard for truth and decency… and if his massive deception doesn’t spark outrage, then there is something wrong with our society.

        Reply
  3. Hmmm... January 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    This is a really interesting take on a current issue. I’d never thought about cheating that way. Very well-written.

    Reply

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