Lance Was Right- It Was Never About the Bike

August 25, 2012


It happened during the fourth round of our fantasy draft last night. I had my sights set on Beanie Wells and Beanie Wells, alone. Various topics of conversation had been ebbing and flowing throughout the night thus far but then, a friend of mine spoke up. “Lance is being stripped of all his Tour victories.” The room grew quiet for a few seconds before we all dove into the inter-webs to dig up the details. Although I knew that Armstrong had given up trying to block the United Stated Anti-Doping Agency’s case against him, I had no idea his victories could be erased this quickly. However, the USADA took Armstrong’s decision to avoid arbitration as an admission of guilt and their mission was now complete- their witch hunt had ended.

Lance Armstrong- the epitome of perseverance- has given up on protecting his name and titles from being dragged through the dirt. But perhaps now, with the titles are gone, we can step back and measure Lance’s true impact without being blinded by the yellow jerseys.

Lance Armstrong in 2008.

As amazing as it was for Armstrong to win his seven tour titles, it was an incredible feat for him to even be in the race. A cancer survivor competing in the most grueling race in all of sports is enough for celebration, let alone winning it for seven straight years. More important than the victories, though, are the millions he has inspired to overcome and beat cancer. Regardless of doping charges, Armstrong became an icon to anyone who had seemingly lost hope. When many only need a glimpse of faith to help them continue on with their incredible fight, Armstrong provided throngs of the hope stricken with much more than just a glimpse, but a whole avenue of inspiration.

There is much more here than victories and titles, there are cancer foundations and millions of people who can now say they too are survivors. The USADA is kind of like a cancer in this scenario. Just as cancer can take away hair, weight, and other aesthetics, the USADA can take away titles and victories from Lance. But what neither of them can take is the soul. Lance infused multitudes of souls with a fighting spirit to never give up, no matter how dire the situation may be. And that is exactly what should be taken from his legacy.

I was born into a family of bicycle fanatics. Our garage is littered with bikes, wheels, tires, tubes, frames, you name it and we got it. The three weeks in summer where we were all transported to France was a time of excitement in the Kersh house. I grew up watching Armstrong win stages and prove that a disease does not have to dictate your life. His resolve has stuck in me to this day and no agency could ever strip that away.

But even back in Lance’s heyday, it was easy to be skeptical of his reign. He was the top dog in a sport where nearly everyone was doping. How could the best-of-the-best be the only clean rider? It was the elephant in the room and was something no one really wanted to go deeply into. During climax of the Lance-era when everyone was wearing the yellow band, my father said, “Be your own hero.” Basically, don’t rely on someone else’s heroics when they may turn out to be fabricated.

And as true as that may be, especially now, Lance Armstrong planted a seed of hope within us all during his fight against cancer and the Pyrenees. It was never about the bike, it was about the message and the will to live and fight another day. We all have personal battles staring at us everyday and Armstrong taught an entire generation to stand up to our challenges and live strong.

Stephen Kersh (@KaptainKersh) is majoring in jogging at the University of Portland

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One Comment on “Lance Was Right- It Was Never About the Bike”

  1. Krista Kersh Says:

    Well said and oh, so true. May we all Live Strong and I thank you Lance Armstrong.


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