Open Letter to Lance Armstrong

Dear Lance,

I need to get a few things off of my chest. I’m conflicted. I am a fellow cancer survivor and was one of your biggest fans, supporters, and advocates. I read your two books. I continue to wear a LIVESTRONG wristband. But I’m conflicted.

Our local YMCA is a LIVESTRONG YMCA. I am a board member there, and one of the LIVESTRONG liaisons. I have spoken to LIVESTRONG CEO Doug Ulman  on more than one occasion about LIVESTRONG and the legend of Lance Armstrong. We share a handful of friends in the multisport community. I am a triathlete and have followed your career where since the age of 16, you were giving some pros a run for their money prior to turning your sights to the sport of cycling.

I understand a little bit about the sport of pro cycling. Probably not as much as I think I do…..but enough to know that doping was common place among so many people for so long. I get the fact that if the top athletes in the sport were doing it, then others felt obligated to follow in their footsteps if they wanted to remain competitive. I’m not saying I agree with it… just saying I understand it.  I also know how competitive you are. You do not lose well. Hell, you don’t even do second place well. So in some dark twisted sense, I would understand you feeling the need to partake. (I would try to talk you out of it, but I would understand where you were coming from).

What I don’t understand is living the lie for so many years and even playing the work ethic and the “why would I put stuff into my body after all that I’ve been through” card. That is the part that stings. I feel like you soiled sacred ground with that stance. Survivors take their ability to rebuild and comeback seriously and with a lot of pride. I raced ironman 7 months after my leukemia diagnosis and having gone through 4 rounds of both chemotherapy and  monoclonal antibody infusions. I did it with a positive outlook, hard work, and good nutrition. I am not comparing my accomplishment to your Tour wins. I can’t … because in all honesty, mine means more. Mine was honest and wholesome and clean. And I continue to inspire, whereas you are in damage control mode.

So now with that off of my chest, here is where I have landed on this issue. It’s behind me. I have an unparalleled appreciation and respect for the work you have done with LIVESTRONG. And I fully acknowledge that we are imperfect beings living in an imperfect world. Lord knows, I have made my share of mistakes. I know there is a good man in you and like I said, you don’t lose well. So, my challenge to you Lance Armstrong is to find a way to make this all right for the people you have let down. My feeling is that somehow you will find a way to grow from the experience, and I urge you to do so. Find a way to reinvent the image you have tarnished. It won’t be easy. But it can be done.

People need to stick together. But people also need to take ownership for their actions and relationships.

Listen to my January 18th interview with WTOP in DC on the subject.

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  1. Posted January 18, 2013 at | Permalink

    Well said, pal…….

    Shep Messing
    Managing Director
    Global Sport Group, LLC

  2. Posted January 18, 2013 at | Permalink

    Very well done Steve! You are a true warrior and a good friend. I hope Lance sees this.

  3. Posted January 18, 2013 at | Permalink

    Well said!!!

    Posted January 18, 2013 at | Permalink

    Wonderful job with this, and really every, entry. You took the words from my mouth and heart. Make sure Doug gets this to Lance’s must-read pile!

  5. Posted January 18, 2013 at | Permalink

    Great letter Steve! Well done! Your point hit home for me as well…….
    Nick Sakiewicz
    CEO & Operating Partner
    Philadelphia Union

  6. Sister Madonna Buder
    Posted January 18, 2013 at | Permalink

    Well said! AND graciously so! Just hope,like you,he’ll eventually be able to live with himself, not so much as a famous cyclist but as a Child of God as we all are!
    Blessings on you and your endeavors! Sister Madonna

  7. Steve
    Posted January 20, 2013 at | Permalink

    I have a quick post script comment to my original letter….. yesterday our family visited the Padre Pio National Centre outside of Pottstown PA. In the little chapel was an original confessional used by Padre Pio. The confessional was behind a wrought iron display where many visitors had placed notes of prayer, ribbons, flowers, etc. I looked down at my LIVESTRONG wristband and felt that would be the perfect place for it to spend some time. Lance could use some help right now. And LIVESTRONG needs to do just that: live strong. So, I took off my yellow and wrapped it around the fencing. And reflected to myself my hope that everyone heals and moves beyond this situation.

  8. Posted January 20, 2013 at | Permalink

    Steve, have known you so many years. Only a person who has been through what you have, yet so dedicated to “the sport” . . . could have put it so well in words like you did.

    The most painful thing about a “fallen champion” such as Lance Armstrong. . . . Is how long and how much he denied. Years and years of it. At what cost? His integrity. His total persona. Yes we are not perfect, but life is a challenge on all levels, until the light goes out. He closed that light. Now only he can open it. We will see what he is made of now.

    Because “they all did it?” That gave him an excuse. NO. A true champion comes from within. I do not think he has it from “within.” Thousands of us donate, give, volunteer, reach out a helping hand in so many ways. Do not receive recognition, nor expect it. These people are the true champions. You are a champion. The parent who gives, works, supports, yet finds time to be a week-end warrior, they are champions.

    The Special Olympics & their volunteers, the physically challenged, a man swimming the GCBS 4.4 open water swim, with no arms or legs – he is a champion.

    I have seen so many champions at the finish lines over the years, none looking for the glory of Lance Armstrong which was never satisfied.

    Still a sadness from within for all he could have been, could have inspired, could have changed his sport if he loved it so much . . . I guess not enough.

  9. Steve
    Posted January 20, 2013 at | Permalink

    Wow! Linda T …..

    What an awesome comment! Love it. I hope you guys are well and Mark is doing everything that he is told….. :)

    You guys are champions… and and you always will be. You help dreams come true.

    All the best to Lin-Mark!

  10. Woody
    Posted January 23, 2013 at | Permalink

    Well said, my friend!

    I am truly saddened by all that has transpired with Lance Armstrong – in the peloton, as well as off the bike & away from cycling. I am sad about the lives that were impacted and the relationships left in shambles. I feel sad for those who believed so strongly in his story.

    That said, in the end, it is not my place to judge right or wrong (please understand – I am not implying that anyone here is judging). I will sit back and see what transpires over the next several months. There is tremendous potential for Lance to “make good’ on that which has taken place. I hope he uses this opportunity in a positive format. A persons character can be defined by what he does in the face of adversity.

    This past Monday, the “water cooler gang” held a highly charged conversation Ray Lewis (of the Baltimore Ravens). Some placed Ray on a pedestal, while others see him as a thug. I was asked my thoughts – and I replied that it didn’t really phase me, as this was a big football game and the media was looking for stories to fill the next two weeks. In the end, I shared that while the NFL was entertaining, it wasn’t curing cancer.

    And yet Lance has been “curing cancer” (well, trying anyway…). In my opinion, Lance’s involvement with Live Strong is commendable and as difficult as it may be, I feel we should be recognized separate & away from his peloton shenanigans.

    In the end – whether it be Lance Armstrong, Ray Lewis or any other high profile public figure – we form our opinions based on information from the media. We can and should safely assume there is much information surrounding Lance that we don’t know and/or fully understand.

    I think of you and your family often, my friend – and look forward to catching up soon.


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