Lance Armstrong–the former 7 time Tour de France winner and founder of the Livestrong Foundation–was riding against evidence–which indicates Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs and actively participated in (or orchestrated) manipulating stamina and blood oxygen levels during his pursuit of cycling glory–until the USADA’s Reasoned Decision ended the race, indefinitely.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) which acts as “the guardian of the values and life lessons learned through true sport”,  banned Armstrong for life and disqualified all of his winnings (dating back to 1998) associated with The United States Postal Service Pro – Cycling Team Doping Conspiracy because Armstrong decided not to go forward with arbitration.

On Monday the International Cycling Union (UCI), cycling’s governing body clearly demonstrated UCI stood in agreement with USADA by agreeing to formally strip Armstrong of all 7 Tour de France titles and ban Armstrong from cycling for life. The International Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid delivered UCI’s findings during Monday’s press conference and summarized UCI’s position in seven words, “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling”.

USADA and UCI charge Lance Armstrong was well aware of and an integral part of, if not the inspiration behind his team’s “doping culture” and they argue “Armstrong’s career on the USPS/Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team was fueled from start to finish by doping.” USADA and UCI believe Armstrong relied on erythropoietin (EPO), testosterone and blood transfusions to increase his stamina and the oxygen in his blood, all of which are illegal under USADA & UCI.

With all of Lance Armstrong’s cycling achievements erased from cycling history–as if they never were–the UCI and USADA trust they are moving cycling forward toward a future free of doping controversy, full of transparency and athletic integrity.

At Stake

Armstrong’s decision to skip USADA’s arbitration and discontinue defending his name and his record was seen as confirmation of his guilt and wrong doing, which is taking his reputation and integrity for an awful digital spin.

As a result, sponsorship are ending, possible lawsuit(s) are on the horizon and disgusted donors are requesting their donated monies are returned. Nike and Oakley have with severed ties with Armstrong but will preserve their relationship with the Livestrong Foundation. London’s Sunday Times who paid an undisclosed amount to Armstrong to settle legal action years ago, may sue Armstrong to recover the monies paid to Armstrong. Some former donors to the Livestrong Foundation, who believe they were swindled by Armstrong want their donated monies back. On top off all of that, Armstrong may also have to return all of his earnings from cycling.

Nike dissolved their endorsement relationship with Armstrong saying:

“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. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner.

Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer.”

This must be one, if not the most treacherous courses Armstrong has ever ridden in his life. There are other pending problems for Lance:

Strong Reputation Lessons

The road Armstrong finds himself on now is unlike any terrain he has maneuvered on before.  At stake here is not just Lance Armstrong’s athletic prowess, his place in history, and Armstrong’s personal integrity. What’s at stake here is the future and reputation of the Livestrong Foundation, and its relationship with the leading brands that equip Livestrong to battle cancer head on. Lives are on the line.

There are many lessons that can be learned from this unfortunate tale. Here are just a few:

  • How you conduct yourself matters
  • Breaking  or circumventing rules has serious consequences
  • Every decision you make has a consequence (intended & unintended)
  • Perception can upend every reputation
  • The nature of the offense matters
  • Don’t cross the line in the pursuit of glory
  • Guilt by association is a standard for some
  • Separate and distinguish personal and professional struggles from the mission of any social good activity you participate in or lead.

There’s a thin, grey line between achieving professional glory and falling from grace. Know it. Respect it. Never step over it.

What do you think about the USADA & UCI decision and Lance Armstrong? 

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