Our View: Sorting out Lance Armstrong’s legacy

DKS Editors

We’ve all seen, or have even worn, the yellow Livestrong bracelets. They are the symbol of cyclist Lance Armstrong and millions of others who have overcome cancer.

After declining to appeal charges levied against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency last week, Armstrong essentially decided to give up in a fight — seemingly for the first time in his life.

By not continuing his appeal, Armstrong could face a lifetime ban from cycling and be stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles. The USADA is recommending the penalties, but the International Cycling Union — the sport’s governing body — will not take action until the USADA provides proof that Armstrong cheated.

While the Daily Kent Stater editorial staff doesn’t promote doping or the use of performance-enhancing drugs, we are hesitant to vilify Armstrong.

Blood doping during the Tour de France makes Armstrong a cheater in the sport of cycling — but it doesn’t erase the hundreds of millions of dollars he’s raised for cancer research and the inspiration he’s provided for millions of people.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation uses more than 80 percent of its money toward programming that enriches the lives of cancer patients and survivors. In 2011 alone, the foundation spent nearly $30 million on those programs.

The foundation has spent millions of dollars to help form cancer research and treatment centers across the country and has raised $80 million dollars alone from Livestrong wristband sales.

In the days following Armstrong’s announcement, donors came out in force to support the foundation and the man who started it in 1997.

It was a demonstration that Armstrong wasn’t only revered for what he could do on a bicycle. He is loved and respected as a man who beat the odds and didn’t pat himself on the back for it — he gave everything he could to help others beat the odds, too.

So, before you write off Armstrong as a fraud or a cheater, please remember that cycling isn’t what defined him as a man. He is defined by his courage and willingness to help others in need.

Lastly, don’t be surprised if Armstrong rebounds from this decision. After all, he’s come back from much, much worse.