We all remember Livestrong bracelets. For many, they were more than just a bright, plastic, fad accessory–they were a small symbol of hope in the fight against cancer. Which is why the Lance Armstrong doping scandal is as sad as it is deplorable.
In recent months and weeks, the story of a sports hero who beat cancer and battled back to the top of cycling has become a tale of a devastating fall from grace. And with the confirmation from Armstrong himself that he did, in fact, participate in doping to win the Tour de France, the reaction is a constellation of emotions.
Steve Kornacki explains that while it’s clear now that Armstrong did use performance enhancing drugs, “total condemnation” is difficult because of the context.
“This is a guy, who I’ve said before, you can’t take away the fact that he beat Stage 4 cancer. You can’t take away the fact that he used that victory over Stage 4 cancer, and he used the victories in the Tour de France–however illicit these victories were–he used that to raise an incredible amount of money, an incredible amount of awareness, and an incredible amount of hope for victims of cancer.”
From a strictly monetary perspective, Livestrong has raised $470 million to support, inspire, and empower people with cancer since 1997. And Kornacki, supported by Krystal Ball, said that there many lives were changed for the better because of the work that Armstrong made possible by way of the Livestrong Foundation.
But fellow Cycle hosts S.E. Cupp and Toure did not share Steve’s bittersweet reaction to Armstrong’s confession, saying that the good he did does not mitigate or excuse the bad. Toure called Armstrong’s actions “an emotional Ponzi scheme” and wondered “if the people who were given optimism by Lance’s example or given money by Livestrong, when they found out that their hero was actually a fraud, if they actually felt worse.”
It’s never easy to see someone that you once held as a hero torn destroyed by his own actions. Will Lance Armstrong be remembered within the context of doping, but also advancing the fight against cancer or will he be remembered as a sociopath who ruthlessly attacked anyone who accused him of cheating until he couldn’t run from his lies any longer?