Late last week, Lance Armstrong, the winner of seven consecutive titles (1999-2005) of the world's most grueling bike race - The Tour de France, finally confessed to something many people had suspected for years - The use of performance enhancing steroids during most of his storied career, to get an edge over his competitors.
What is even more disillusioning is that it was not just he but his entire team of 11 cyclists, that used the drugs, which were administered to them by the team's physicians with the full blessing and knowledge of the coach. And, it gets worse.
When Emma O'Reilly, the team's former masseuse tried to expose his secret, he bullied her into submission by filing a defamation lawsuit against her, for spreading vicious rumors.
When asked why he did not just come clean after the initial accusations, the athlete responded that he got caught up in his own legend - The superhero that had survived cancer and made an amazing comeback. Sadly enough over the years, he had managed to convince himself that he was not really doing anything wrong.
Even after all his former teammates testified against him to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which resulted in him being stripped of all his seven titles in October 2011 and a lifetime ban on competitive cycling, Armstrong kept asserting his innocence.
As to why he finally decided to come clean in a two-part interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey on national television, is anyone's guess. The sad part is he is not the only prominent athlete to have done this - In 2007, US Olympic sprinter Marion Jones was stripped of all her five gold medals and banned from the track for 2 years. Earlier this year, former San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, was denied a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame because of suspicions that he too used steroids during his tenure with the team - An allegation that he still steadfastly denies - And, the list goes on and on.
While we all want to win and get famous the big question that comes to mind is that since when has sports become only about winning? What happened to sportsmanship, ethics and integrity? As sports journalist Grantland Rice succinctly put it 'It's not that you won or lost but how you played the game" - These role models certainly didn't play it the right way! Don't you agree?
Resources: cnn.com, abcnews.com