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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why I Can't Give Lance Armstrong a Pass

We are now more than a month away from the big Oprah "comeback" with her Lance Armstrong interview. Of course, Oprah never really leaves, but this was her first major-league venture back into serious network TV.

I didn't watch. I felt neither the need nor the desire to watch. Nothing was learned in the interview that we did not already assume from the "facts in evidence," or at least the media version of said facts.

Lots of people said, "Big deal...a cyclist doping!" Doping in Lance Armstrong's world is like a $100 handshake in SEC football (or, in Kentucky's case, basketball):  It's just the way that it's done.

Much has been made over Armstrong's lack of faith in God (certainly a Chrsitian God).  He apparently believes only in himself, and according to his standards he may be in deep trouble. Armstrong has lied, deceived, manipulated, and twisted the truth for years in defense of his Tour de France titles. He has threatened to destroy people's lives to cover his butt against the ridiculous quest to prove his guilt.

But that is not why I didn't watch.

Armstrong has fought--and, for the time being, beat--cancer. He started the foundation to raise cancer awareness (NOT research, as this article helps to show). Some people think that his work for cancer awareness and support should overshadow his doping, and I completely understand why they feel that way.

And that is why I didn't watch. And it's why I cannot give Armstrong a "pass" for his actions.

Some people who are willing to let Armstrong slide are suffering with cancer, much like ESPN anchor Stu Scott. Others have friends or family members who are suffering from this heinous disease. Some of MY friends are willing to forgive Armstrong because of their own family members.

I just can't bring myself to do that.

I have presided over almost 50 funerals that involved those who died from cancer. I lost my mother-in-law and my uncle to cancer. My wife and I have witnessed friends and church members who battled the disease or stood by to watch their loved ones battle it.

I believe that Lance Armstrong is an insult to all these people.

Battling cancer is about battling a vile, repulsive disease that destroys people's lives. Yet, Armstrong was willing to destroy lives in order to keep his titles and "battle" the disease. He bullied and threatened and attempted to destroy lives, supposedly in an effort to maintain his campaign against cancer.

But the evidence is that it wasn't about cancer. It was about Lance Armstrong, and it was always about Lance Armstrong. It was about his status, his titles, his cover-ups and his money. He may have done a lot to help cancer patients and their families, but he conveniently made millions from his ruthlessness as well as the goodwill created by LiveStrong.

I'm sorry, but I cannot abide a person who fights this disease while intentionally benefitting from it. I am glad that he created LiveStrong, and hope that the good work of that organization will continue. But that doesn't earn Armstrong a "free ride" if you will.

Motives do matter, and I see no evidence that Lance's motives involved anything other than saving himself. Even if I am wrong, why is it acceptable to run over one group of innocent people in order to help another? In this case, the end does not justify the means.

I hope that LiveStrong finds a way to continue their efforts to support cancer patients and their families. But I'm glad their leaving Lance Armstrong behind. I couldn't care less about what he did in a bike race, but I very much care that he wrecked lives and made millions in the name of those he was supposedly trying to help.

Instead of worrying about Lance, give a donation to an organization that is raising money to help patients through research. May I suggest Team Moxie for Relay 4 Life in Greenville, SC? If not there, then donate your time/talent/treasure elsewhere (including LiveStrong) to help the true heroes in the battle against cancer.

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