October 23, 2012
On October 22, 2012, the International Cycling Union announced that it was stripping Lance Armstrong of all of his 7 Tour de France titles endorsing the findings of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that there was evidence that “shows beyond any doubt that the U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team (Lance’s team) ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sports has ever seen.” Last week, Mr. Armstrong decided to resign his position as Chairman of Livestrong, the cancer-fighting foundation he had created in 1997. He said he was stepping down: “to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career.”
At the same time, Nike, one of Mr. Armstrong’s largest sponsors ($30M) posted on its website the following statement: “Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him.” Anheuser-Busch and Trek Bicycles terminated their sponsorship relationships with him as well. Lance has claimed that he is innocent, that he never took any performance enhancing drugs.
It is interesting to note also that this scandal was first investigated and exposed by a U.S. quasi government entity, the USADA, not a European one. The USADA has been recognized by the U.S. Congress as “the official anti-doping agency for Olympic, Pan American and Paralympic sport in the United States.”
In all fairness, Armstrong and the U.S. cycling teams were by far not the only ones involved. It is public knowledge that the practice of doping is rampant in the world of cycling. The “everybody does it” argument (which is never a valid moral excuse,) in this case is quite accurate. Those that refuse to participate are the ones at a competitive disadvantage. In sports, competitive disadvantage means you lose!
In ethics, sometimes you need to lose in order to win.
The ideal position, one we should strive for is to have the courage to do the right thing, “win or lose!”
As Abraham Lincoln once said:
I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.
I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have.
I must stand with anybody that stands right and stand with him while he is right,
And part with him when he goes wrong.