Cheating in Sport: the greatest fraud in sporting history.

Cheating in Sport: the greatest fraud in sporting history.

I recently watched the documentary “Stop at nothing" about Lance Armstrong and I have never watched a television programme that has provoked such strong emotion in me. Peter Norman the Australian athlete, who supported Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics protest for Black Power and Colin Kaepernick the NFL star who begun the "kneeling protest" both provide a stark contrast. Their selfless acts cost them dearly compared with Armstrong who benefited and continues to benefit from an entirely self-serving, blatant regime of cheating that made him a multi-millionaire.


Lance Armstrong 2009  

Peter Norman was vilified continually for his stance and Kaepernick has been unable to gain a new NFL contract. Meanwhile, a cheating, evil, narcissist who would "stop at nothing ‘to win’", (I put ‘to win’ in single quotation marks because ultimately he lost his awards, sponsors, titles and accolades), systematically took drugs, bribed people, stitched up his friends and lied in the most concentrated and ruthless manner possible and yet he achieved his ultimate aim of riches and fame and it makes me angry.


Why would this make me angry? He lost $75 million dollars in a day, ahhh boo hoo; he is still worth $50 million dollars today! To me, he is one of the world's most successful fraudsters and he should be in jail or living in a one-room bedsit somewhere awful. Instead, he is sat comfortably in one of his mansions, still being paid for interviews. He is growing old watching his kids succeed with every advantage that he did not have. Do I think he really regrets it? Not for a millisecond. Do I think he'd do it all again? 100% I do. 

Meanwhile, Kaepernick can't get an NFL contract and Peter Norman died poor.  


The bad stuff that happened to Armstrong 


Armstrong was born in 1971 and was brought up by his mother and in the early years by his stepfather Terry Armstrong who admitted “Lance would not be the champion he is today without me because I drove him…I drove him like an animal. That’s the only thing I feel bad about. Did I make him too much `win at all costs’?” The articles I read suggested this was verging on child abuse.


Cancer is not something that you wish on your worst enemy and even if the drugs he was taking caused or exacerbated his cancer, his recovery from death's door to world champion is still an amazing story.


Do either of these things justify his actions? Some might argue however I am not qualified to answer that question coming from a privileged middle-class background, but I'd like to think, given the same circumstances in life, that I would not have made the decisions he did. 


What did he achieve?

Tour de France


Ignoring the fact that he has been stripped of all his titles, I wonder if history will remember that, Lance Armstrong was arguably the world's greatest athlete.

1991: U.S. amateur national champion at the age of 20. 

1992: Turns pro and finishes last in his debut race in San Sebastian, Spain. 

1993: Wins world championship.  

1999: Wins first of seven consecutive Tour de France titles at age 27  

2000: Wins second Tour de France and a bronze medal at the Sydney Olympic Games. 

2004: Wins record-setting sixth Tour de France. 

2005: Wins seventh Tour de France and retires from cycling at age 33.  

2009: Comes out of retirement and finishes third in the Tour de France. 

Not bad reading..... but... HE WAS CHEATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


His crimes against sport:


In June 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) accused Armstrong of doping and drug trafficking, based on blood samples from 2009 and 2010, and testimonies from witnesses including former teammates. Armstrong, denying all doping use in a statement, was suspended from competition in cycling and triathlon.


From what I can gather, he left no stone unturned in his search for competitive advantage. Here is a list of the drugs he took and other methods of cheating he used:


EPO and blood transfusions: Injected

EPO, boosts red blood cell production, thus improving endurance,

Blood transfusions, half-litres of blood were extracted, stored in fridges, then rigged up as drips on coat hangers and reinfused into riders, so replicating the effect of EPO.


Andriol: Taken orally/through patches

Andriol is commonly referred to as liquid testosterone. Testosterone is used to increase muscle mass and strength.


Cortisone: Injected or swallowed

This reduces pain and inflammation.


Human growth hormone: Injected

HGH increases lean body mass and decreases fat mass.


Actovegin: Injected night before a race

This improves oxygen delivery to muscles.


His punishment:


In true American style, Lance finally decided it was a good idea to come clean for all his crimes on Oprah. He confessed to taking banned substances for every single one of his Tour de France victories. The suspicious part of me thinks that this full confession was mainly to get it all out of the way rather than fight more and more expensive legal battles over the years.



He was banned for life from cycling competitively and taken to court by his cycling team who settled for $5million dollars when they were originally seeking $100 million.


It all seems rather pathetic even when you take into account that on the day of his Oprah announcement he lost $75 million in sponsorship deals, but he has been left sitting pretty with a $50 million fortune he would not have had if hadn’t cheated.


Would you have done the same?

$50 million is quite a carrot.


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