Armstrong's group still helps victims

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A South Marion Citizen editorial

In a nation where the words “race fans” assume either the pounding of hooves at the horse races or the roar of the engines at NASCAR tracks, it’s a stark contrast when people attend bicycle races.
It’s the sound of silence as bikes quietly zip along the streets where the race is being held.
The silence of the sordid side of bicycle racing was broken last week when Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner and Olympic silver medalist, sat down for an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Now stripped of all his titles, Armstrong admitted that he was “doping” by taking banned substances during his racing career. The medications are called performance enhancing drugs, or PEDs, and their use is evidently widespread.
It’s been an issue in professional baseball for years, and only recently the Hall of Fame voters refused to admit anyone into that hallowed institution, despite the presence of the all-time home run leader and a seven-time Cy Young award pitcher on the ballot. We all know why.
It would therefore seem certain that Armstrong would be ostracized by people all across the nation, especially after he admitted he was lying when he sued people for accusing him of taking the enhancements, even though they were telling the truth.
But it’s not that easy.
For all the ill will Armstrong has generated in the past week, it cannot be denied that, being a cancer survivor, he has helped many, many others with the disease through his organization called Livestrong. He recently stepped down as head of that group.
Most sports fans are familiar with Jim Valvano, the late North Carolina State basketball coach whose message during his final years of a battle with cancer still resonates in replays of a famous speech he once gave. The Jimmy V Foundation raises funds for cancer research, and is a popular charity throughout the sports world.
Livestrong does not do the same thing. It reaches out to people who already have cancer, trying to improve their lives as they battle against the disease.
It would be a shame if Armstrong’s admitted indiscretions cause this organization to lose funding. When someone openly deceives the public, it’s generally some innocent victims that pay the price. In Armstrong’s case, some of the innocent victims were those who were sued by him for speaking the truth, but if Livestrong is hurt, the list will also include all those who could be helped by this group.
So condemn Armstrong all you want, but remember that his organization can still help a lot of people out there with cancer. Don’t let them become collateral damage in the fallout against a cheating bicycle racer.