Did Lance Armstrong do steroids? The great American cyclist will be the subject of a 60 Minutes story tonight on CBS. The subject matter won’t be based on how incredible Armstrong was during his years of competition. In fact, the subject matter involves a witness who says he watched Lance Armstrong inject steroids. So don’t expect a glorious tribute to a guy who simply changed the landscape of cycling.
Could this be another sad end to what we thought was a storybook career for an American athlete? Or will the 60 Minutes story just provide credible evidence that Armstrong was doing steroids? Or could it be both? The truth is we will never know which athletes did steroids unless they actually admit it. Sure, there will be witnesses who come forward. In this case, one fellow athlete admits to seeing injections. But when it comes down to it, steroid use will almost always come down to a “who do you believe” question. The unfortunate thing about looking back in retrospect is there will be little if any true evidence that supports the fact that someone was “juiced.” The Lance Armstrong situation is proof of that.
There have been others who have said Armstrong did steroids but we still don’t have any actual evidence of such a thing. Baseball players have accomplished the same thing by using the “deny, deny, deny” escape clause. Roger Clemens may deny the use of steroids forever. Barry Bonds also may always deny that he took steroids. If that works, who could actually blame the guys? After all, your legend doesn’t increase by admitting to doing something wrong to achieve greatness in a sport. Who wants to go down like that? Isn’t it better to lie and keep the image in tact?
It’s a horrible message we send to kids that it’s okay to deny the truth instead of saying what really took place. When money and fame is at stake, we are learning through time that many athletes are simply afraid to honest. We have no clue as to whether Armstrong, Bonds or Clemens actually did steroids. There is no rock solid proof and probably never will be. So each athlete has the ability to deny using such performance enhancing drugs forever.
Armstrong can deny the steroid use until he’s blue in the face. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective, his image has been stained either way. Once the steroids label pops up, an athlete seems to have a tarnished image because of the possibility of the steroid use. The image takes another hit when those who have been accused don’t ‘fess up.
This whole situation kind of makes you appreciate those who have openly confessed to using steroids. The mystery is gone for those people. Their image may be tarnished but not nearly as much as those who continue to lie about their use of the performance enhancing drugs. The only problem is we will never be able to truly tell who is lying and who isn’t.
We might have an idea that Lance Armstrong used steroids, but he’s innocent until truly being cofirmed as guilty. That guilt will never be completely confirmed unless Armstrong admits to it at some point in time. Now, if Armstrong is truly guilty, he would look much worse in the eyes of the public if he does admit to steroid use. And here’s why. He has openly denied use for such a long period of time that now he becomes something worse than a steroid user. Now he becomes a dishonest steroid user. That’s a hit to his image that would even be worse in the perception for the general public.
I think the public has come to grips with the fact that the last few decades of athletics have involved heavy performance enhancing drug use. What the public will never come to grips with, is the fact that our great athletes will lie to a jury or media repetitively about what actually happened. Is it an ego thing? Do our athletes need to believe in their own minds that they accomplished what they did in their respective sports without the use of performance enhancing drugs? It does take away from the allure of what a Barry Bonds type accomplished if the word “steroids” is tossed out. So because of the horrible pressure of athletics, our athletes are caught in a huge ethical dilemma. Do they admit their usage of performance enhancing drugs and face the immediate repercussions that go along with it? Or do they continue to deny and that way they salvage some of their image, fan base and potential endorsements or speaking engagements that comes along with it?
I don’t know if Lance Armstrong did steroids or even popped a Tylenol during his career as a cyclist. He could have been high on dope during his Tour De France dynasty as far as I know. What I do know beyond a doubt is that the pressure he would face to openly admit any wrong doing is way more than any pressure he probably ever faced during any event–if he truly did steroids. The pressure these days to be honest in concern to steroid use must be very humbling. I truly believe that many of the athletes of today who did performance enhancing drugs would be better off to come clean and get those issues off their chest. That would involve being morally ethical and true to their own self. It seems unlikely that many of our great athletes who did those types of drugs would come clean–but some certainly have and dealt with the aftermath. I think we should celebrate those athletes who come clean for being the people who were honest enough to confess-even if they were dishonest enough to cheat or bend the rules by taking the drugs in the first place. It just kind of makes you respect those athletes who do admit the wrongdoing for being good people–not necessarily for being good athletes.
In the end, if Lance Armstrong doesn’t admit the steroid use-we’ll never truly know if he did or didn’t. It’s going to be one of those shadows that will always follow him until the day he passes from this life. It’s truly unfortunate he will carry that burden if he didn’t. Some people deny, deny, deny because they didn’t do it. Some people deny, deny, deny because they are afraid of the repercussions of their actions. I don’t think the majority of us could ever comprehend what it would be like for someone who enjoyed such athletic success as a Lance Armstrong to confess to steroid use. I also don’t think many of us could comprehend what it feels like for such an athlete to live through the perils of being wrongly accused. Maybe one day we’ll truly know if Armstrong was a small cog in the 80’s and 90’s steroid wheel that collected many athletes. Maybe we’ll never know. The 60 Minutes Lance Armstrong story isn’t going to give us complete evidence that Armstrong was guilty of these accusations. It will just probably add more fuel to the fire in his “deny, deny, deny” claims. So Armstrong fans will only have their own thoughts and ideas to believe in. Whether he did or didn’t, Armstrong still is completely guilty of bringing more publicity to the sport of cycling in America than any other athlete. It would be a shame to see that era end with a giant thud. It’s probably more of a shame that we’ll just never know. That’s why we are all victims of the steroids era. We just don’t know what to believe and perhaps never will.