Yellow Bracelets

For about five years, I’ve worn a yellow plastic bracelet on my right wrist, day and night.   You’ve probably seen them around.  They have the word LiveStrong embossed on one side.  Of course, they are a signature of The Lance Armstrong Foundation, which is the largest athlete charity in history, raising $470M since 1997 to fight cancer.   I started wearing the bracelet when my friend John was fighting cancer, a battle he lost.   I’ve worn it through Muri’s semiannual mammograms and the sometimes sonograms when something showed up, all false alarms, thank God.   I wore it while my sister-in-law lost her battle and now while my friend, Bill, is fighting his.   It represents my support of charities fighting cancer and my support of anyone dealing with the disease.  It’s not about Lance Armstrong.

OK, it didn’t hurt that it was Lance Armstrong.  I’ve followed his career from the first time he won the Tour de France.   I got up early in the morning to watch his amazing uphill charges and come from behind victories.  I read his book, It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, the story of his recovery from testicular cancer.  In case you don’t know the story, in 1996, his cancer had had metastasized to his brain and lungs with a very poor prognosis.  By 1999, after brain and testicular surgery and extensive chemotherapy, he was winning his first Tour de France.  He would win the next six.  I read Lance Armstrong’s War, Daniel Coyle’s brilliant portrait of Armstrong and the world of professional cycling.  Like almost everyone else, I considered Lance an American hero, the rumors of doping and performance enhancing drugs notwithstanding.  It was only the French after all.

So here we are, seven years after his last tour win and the the United States Anti-Doping Agency has finally run him to ground, charging Armstrong with doping and trafficking of drugs, based on blood samples from 2009 and 2010, and testimonies from other cyclists, most of whom have already admitted to doping.   In a statement, Armstrong said this: There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, “Enough is enough.” For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s unconstitutional witch hunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.

I’m not naive.  I’ve known for years that it was a possibility that an American hero was cheating.  I chose not to believe it because we need heroes who come back from cancer and win it all.  Watching the USADA’s obsessive pursuit of Armstrong makes me sick, not because they think they’ve found apparent evidence but because it seems to be more about vindictiveness toward a man who refused to give in to their pressure than about drugs.   So, the agency whose mission is to Preserve the Integrity of Competition, Protect True Sport and Protect the Right of U.S. Athletes has brought down an American hero.  Lead investigator Travis Tygart is dancing his victory dance.  Was Armstrong ever an American hero?  Maybe not.  Does anyone think Tygart is?  Sadly, self-righteous journalists who’ve never done anything but write about sports are writing scathing articles about the man they lionized a few years back.  And on the message boards, people who’ve done absolutely nothing in their lives are writing cynical comments that they seem to think are clever or funny.   The whole thing makes me feel like I need a shower.  And it makes me sad.

Oh, yeah.  Contributions to The Lance Armstrong Foundation are up 30% since his statement.  And I’m still wearing my bracelet.

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8 Comments on “Yellow Bracelets”

  1. Merlin Says:

    Well said. Makes me sad too. I also read his books, rose early to watch his exciting cycling triumphs, and have lost loved ones to cancer in the interim. All of this leaves me a bit confused and saddened, feeling as though I’ve lost something important.

  2. crockettr Says:

    Bud, I completely and totally agree with your post. I posted something very similar on another site, just not as eloquently as you.
    Lance was not found guilty of anything, yet the headline on MSN read: Lance: cheater and lier.
    The UCI, International Cycling Federation has stood behind Lance in this battle with the US ADA.
    This while ordeal has made make sick and upset with the US system.
    When a successful company like Microsoft gets too successful, in someone’s opinion, we take them down.
    Likewise, when an American athlete is to good, we strip them of 10 years odd successes.

  3. territerri Says:

    Are the bracelets still available? Because I feel more compelled to wear one now than ever before.

  4. Cheryl P. Says:

    I, too, am saddened by this. Also, a little disappointed that if Lance is inncocent as he continues to proclaim that he didn’ty arbitrate. It is getting harder and harder to find heros and when we do, there seems to be someone intent on knocking them down.

  5. blakeworld Says:

    Dear USADA,

    Congratulations……….All of you people there at the USADA have proved with your witch hunt of Lance Armstrong that you ALL are on the same playing field of some of the most despicable people on Earth……..right up there with the freaks at the Topeka, KS Westboro Church that picket soldiers funerals…..

    You people with your “Holier than Thou” attitude do NOTHING to inspire or lift people up as Lance Armstrong does…….you only exist to tear people down, which not only makes you all the worst kind of people, but makes you complete losers……and losers always hate people better than themselves…..that’s why they are losers and will always be losers……and you people are major LOSERS…….

    Lance Armstrong passed ALL the tests (nearly 500 of them in his career and many that were random) and still you persisted because you could not stand the fact that he was just a better athlete that all the rest……..I would expect that you will soon be going after Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps and most likely will be opening cases against Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, and Michael Jordan so you losers can feel like you have anything to do worth while…………

    There is NOT a Rath or Punishment severe enough to impose on all of you there at the USADA that you ALL deserve more than anyone I can think of for what you have done to Lance Armstrong, His Family, and to the millions of people around the world that his story and achievements have inspired and given strength to overcome against all odds……..You will all get yours in this life or the next……

    Most discusted,

    Blake Norris
    Las Vegas, NV


  6. Agree completely with you, Bud -and also the comments posted here too! If Armstrong was such a user of these enhancing drugs, etc., don’t those people at the USADA think somewhere along the line, some test would have shown that? Vindictiveness at its highest.


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