While the news of Lance Armstrong's now legendary cheating tactics were unfolding, I wondered how his fans were coping.
By surviving testicular cancer and training his way back to bicycle racing, he had earned hero status among cancer patients and others. He was held up as an inspiration.
It did take grit to work on getting his body fit and functional. You have to give the devil his due.
We learned that Armstrong used performance-enhancing chemicals to ride to victory in seven Tour de France races. When confronted, he lied and sued witnesses to his doping. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey he admitted to cheating only up to the time that the statute of limitations had run out, meaning he could not be prosecuted.
Parents are now forced to explain life's unpleasant realities to their children. My advice is teach kids that those who do well in sports or who are successful in general, should not necessarily be seen as heroes.
A hero is someone who risks something for someone else. A hero is a family in World War II who hid Jews, risking death. A hero is someone who runs into a burning building to rescue strangers. A hero is someone who gives a lung, kidney, or liver lobe to save a life.
One of Armstrong’s fans, a man who owns a lovely rural restaurant and has proudly raised money for Livestrong, the cancer charity Armstrong founded, had removed a huge autographed photo of him that was prominently displayed in the restaurant. I asked him about it.
He looked sad, but he said that lots of good had come of his association with Livestrong. He had become an avid bicyclist, improving his health. He had met many wonderful, good-hearted people.
I immediately complimented him on his attitude. His hero had fallen hard, but yet he was still able to find the blessings in the experience. I think that most people who related to Livestrong probably did the same uplifting shift in their thinking — mostly because I believe that only inherently decent people get involved in the grass-roots level of a charitable situation.
And that's why I feel so bad for them. Armstrong cheated everyone: family, colleagues, fans, children, the sport, and sportsmanship.
I'm glad he can never race again. That was a well-deserved consequence. I understand the government may sue him for sponsorship finances. That too is a well-deserved consequence. Not ever again being called a hero is the final well-deserved consequence.
Dr. Laura is a well-known radio personality and best-selling author whose full name is Laura Schlessinger. She is interviewed regularly on many of the biggest television shows and publications. Read more reports from Dr. Laura — Click Here Now.
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