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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Is Lance Armstrong a Psycho - or a Victim?

When I first heard about Lance Armstrong's testicular cancer years ago, my immediate thought was, "He's been using steroids." At the time, I figured many people must have had the same thought. Not knowing much about Armstrong or the sport of cycling but basing my thoughts on the doping scandals in other sports, such as the Olympics, I also figured that it was well known and admitted that Armstrong had been using steroids. I found it unfathomable that someone so young and a world class athlete could be riddled with testicular cancer if he had not been doping. Even though the stigma of such activity is quite heavy, I still was quite surprised to learn that Armstrong, when confronted with the issue, had actually denied using steroids and other performance enhancement drugs. Even with such a stigma, many athletes over the years had come clean, so to speak, when confronted with evident difficulties associated with doping - including getting busted. And then there was the sad story of NFL player Lyle Alzado, cut down in the prime of life at age 42 by brain cancer that may have been caused or exacerbated by doping. The assertion that he caused his brain cancer by heavy use of steroids was made by Alzado himself, but it is claimed that no scientific studies have found a solid link. Said Alzado, "Ninety per cent of the athletes I know are on the stuff."

And so, it would seem, are the majority of cyclists on steroids and other such drugs, if the testimony of ex-cycling trainer Willy Voet has any merit. This fact makes Armstrong's denial all that more implausible, particularly with the testimony by his former friend Frankie Andreu and his wife, Betsy, who both claimed they overheard Armstrong tell his doctor that he had used "steroids, testosterone, cortisone, growth hormone and EPO." Armstrong's doctor, however, denies the claim.

The question needs to be asked, is Lance Armstrong a psycho - or a victim? As has been pointed out, he is a role model for athletes and cancer survivors the world over, and he is doing a tremendous disservice to both, if he is lying. How many impressionable kids became cyclists because of him, and then were possibly drawn into the seedy doping world, to risk side effects that could have been prevented if their hero had copped to his use, supposing that he is guilty? Moreover, when my own mother became fatally ill with ovarian cancer, she took strength in Armstrong's recovery, although I did caution her about my suspicions regarding his cancer cause. She was quite disappointed to hear that, and I could sense her becoming deflated in her battle. My beloved mother was very strong, so she turned her mind to other inspiration, but she finally succumbed to the cancer in 2004. In any event, it would behoove Armstrong to tell the truth, presuming he is not.

Perhaps Armstrong is telling the truth and is merely a victim of jealous and vicious gossip? Considering what trainer Voet has said about non-doping cyclists ending up at the "back of the pack," if Armstrong is being truthful, he would have to be hailed as one of the greatest athletes ever. If not, well, he would have to be considered a psycho.

P.S. I'm appending this entry to state that, after careful consideration of information provided by others (thank you, Steve P.), I do believe we must give Lance Armstrong the benefit of the doubt, especially since he's never tested positive for anything. He was apparently a world class athlete long before he began in cycling, when he was a youth who evidently could not have used drugs. As someone who has been on the receiving end of hideous, false rumors from very vicious and vindictive people, I can relate if Armstrong is being unfairly maligned.

P.P.S. The assertion in the following article that "one of the possible side effects of prolonged steroid use is testicular cancer" appears to be controversial, as other claim there has been no scientific evidence linking steroid use to testicular cancer:
"Fears about steroid use also include other cancers, heart enlargement, increased blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and musculoskeletal injuries. Upon closer examination, these too turn out to be overblown. Reports associating heart enlargement, or cardiomegaly, with steroid use often ignore the role of natural, nonthreatening enlargement brought on by prolonged physical exertion, not to mention the effects of alcohol abuse. The relationship is unclear at best. Evidence supporting a link between steroids and ligament and tendon damage is weak, since steroid-related injuries are virtually indistinguishable from those occurring normally. And blood pressure problems, according to Yesalis, have been exaggerated. There is some associative evidence that steroid use can increase the risk of prostate cancer, but this link has yet to be borne out in a laboratory setting. No studies of any kind link the use of anabolics to testicular cancer."

Source: Pumped Up Hysteria
The truth is out there - Cycling - Yahoo! Sports
E.M. Swift,

Is the truth finally catching up with Lance Armstrong, and is this one race the seven-time Tour de France champion may not be able to win?

In Tuesday's New York Times, two of Armstrong's former U.S. Postal Service teammates admitted to having used EPO, an illegal performance-enhancing drug, at some point in 1999, the first year Armstrong won the Tour de France. While neither said they saw Armstrong do the same, the implication was that the drug use was common knowledge within the team. 'The environment was certainly one of, to be accepted, you had to use doping products,' said one of Armstrong's teammates, who requested anonymity, fearing reprisals from the notoriously vindictive Armstrong, who still wields considerable power in cycling.

The other teammate was 39-year-old Frankie Andreu, a domestique who competed professionally for 12 years and was once Armstrong's close friend and roommate. He's now a motivational speaker and real-estate dealer in Dearborn, Mich. He said he only used EPO 'for a couple of races' and was speaking out in hopes of cleaning up his tainted sport.

More interesting -- to me, anyway -- was the testimony the Times uncovered that Andreu and his wife, Betsy, gave last fall during a lawsuit between Armstrong and SCA Promotions. The company had withheld a $5 million bonus it owed Armstrong after he won the '04 Tour because of doping allegations.

The suit was eventually settled out of court in Armstrong's favor, but in their sworn testimony the Andreus said that when they visited Armstrong in the hospital after he'd been diagnosed with testicular cancer, they'd heard him tell his oncologists that he'd used 'steroids, testosterone, cortisone, growth hormone and EPO.' Their testimony was disputed by the doctor who administered Armstrong's chemotherapy at Indiana University Medical Center. In the same trial, Armstrong testified that his doctors never asked him if he'd used performance-enhancing drugs, and that he'd never used those substances.

Which testimony is more credible? The Andreus' or Armstrong's? Ask yourself which party had the most to gain by lying. And why is that particular testimony significant? Because one of the possible side effects of prolonged steroid use is testicular cancer. It's impossible to prove, but if what the Andreus testified to under oath is true, than Lance Armstrong, role model and hero to so many cancer survivors, may very well have helped bring about his own cancer through his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Young athletes tempted to go down that road need to know if that's the case."


Anonymous said...

Is it logical to conclude your mother used steroids because she developed ovarian cancer?

(Sorry, just my INTP "Rational" character immediately zeros in on potential problems with the logic. We might also conclude your mother did NOT use steroids because she didn't survive the cancer while Lance did. Perhaps steroids helps you survive cancer. Not sure how lying makes one a psycho... But it's always interesting to read what you have to say. Your NF character shines through [if I'm right about you being type NF, only you can say. Hope you read the book someday.])

Acharya S said...

No, DD, it is not logical to conclude my mother used steroids because she developed ovarian cancer. First of all, my mother was about 70 years old when she got cancer. Lance Armstrong was in his 20s. My mother wasn't a world class athlete in a field rife with steroid use. She did, however, use a great deal of solvents over a period of many years, as she was always refinishing furniture and redoing wooden floors, etc. Solvents are said to "eat" ovarian cells and are suspected of causing cancer. Hence, we have an entirely different cause of cancer. If my mother had survived, she doubtlessly would have used her intense integrity to investigate and expose the cause of her cancer.

It isn't merely "lying" that makes one psycho. It's the whole situation, which affects a great deal of others in order to protect this kind of lie. This isn't a "little white lie."

I fail to see the superior logic or rationality in your remarks, frankly. In fact, they seem to be somewhat tasteless. But thanks for the kudos, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Dear Luv,

Did you forget the most damning evidence of Lance Armstrong being a possible liar and psychopath? He is from Texas!

Acharya S said...

I get it - like George Bush.

Obviously, you are being facetious, as one's location should have little to do with one's integrity.

Sydney said...

Maybe it's those tight tight cycle shorts that cause over heating of one's testicles, thus creating the perfect environment for over heating of the "huevo's".

P'haps he was just that one in a million to succumb to the "pressure" of crunched gonads?

Then again, maybe he took steroids.

Acharya S said...

You've got a point about the tight shorts, Blue Collar Goddess. I don't know if there's evidence that overcooked eggs can become malignant, but there is evidence that steroids can cause testicular cancer, which is common sense!

Anonymous said...


i agree with dd when said that you shouln't be relating lance armstrong to your mother.. she has nothing to do with him or the situation. Did you know that testicular cancer is most commonly found in men that are between the ages of 20-35?.. and what?.. lance armstrong was 25 at the time when his cancer was detected?.. can't anybody just think that maybe he got the cancer..just because he got cancer.. not because he had steriods...?

He was an amazing athlete as a teen, being a triathelete. i doubt he was on steriods when he was 16.. or even when he qualified for the olympics?.. so why do we think as soon as he gets cancer it's steriod reltated?...

The only reason why he is being claimed to be on steriods is because
1. he is famous
2. he is a good athelete.
3. he is sportmanlike
4. people think he is too good to be real
5. he is giving. and cares ( creaing The Lance Armstrong Foundation)
6. he has been the only one to win the TOur de France 7 times in a row

what is wrong with any of those...
people are jsut assuming steriod use because he is good at something.. because he is a good person. and somebody that everyone should look up to.. somebody who is just trying to make the world a better place!!

And i give props to your mother for believing in lance armstrong. she should have continued. and you shouldn't have stopped her!

Acharya S said...

I have no problem with what you've said, because I don't care all that much about the issue.

However, I entirely resent the implications in your last sentence, and you have no right to make such a judgment call.

Anonymous said...

I have been a pro rider for over 12 years. No one repeat no one rides clean. If they do they lose. Lose too many times and your sponsor says adios. Lance was a great rider who enhanced his God given gift with EPO and other pharmaceuticals. As is the case with many great athletes. I would also add that chemotherapy also directly enhanced his riding by seriously decreasing his muscle and skeletal mass whilst his heart and lungs stayed the same. Just look at the photos, it is not the same person pre and post chemo. Did he catch cancer while doping? Probably. Should he be truthful as Lyle Alzado was so many years ago? Well that is up to him. He is lying to himself and to the public and trading it in for fame, fortune and glory. It is all about choices and karma . . . oh I all most forgot MONEY!