Grand Strand cycling community debates Armstrong's legacy
Mon, 14 Jan 2013 22:52:15 GMT —
News crews staked out cyclist Lance Armstrong's Austin, Texas home Monday, waiting for him to leave for an interview with Oprah Winfrey, where he was expected to admit to doping.
After a decade of denials, Armstrong was expected to apologize and come clean about his role in an alleged doping scheme on the U.S. Postal Service cycling team.
According to an anonymous source, Armstrong apologized to the staff at his Livestrong cancer foundation. The source also said Armstrong apologized for letting the staff down and putting Livestrong at risk, but he did not make a direct confession to the group.
After the meeting, Armstrong, his legal team and close advisers gathered at a downtown Austin hotel for the interview, which is set to air on Oprah's cable network on Thursday.
Around the Grand Strand, the cycling community is already taking sides over Armstrong's legacy.
Currently, Ireland native Jack Johnston owns the Cyclopedia shop in Pawleys Island, but for many years he owned a bike shop in Dallas, where Armstrong got his start in a bike store that was a competitor to Johnston's.
Though Johnston doesn't know Armstrong personally, he's heard many stories about the seven time Tour de France winner and believes that Armstrong, while a great athlete, is perhaps an even better doper.
"What he achieved doping and kept it hidden and kept his enemies at bay and the doubters at bay was also a big achievement," Johnston said.
Johnston was a competitive cycling racer himself in the 60's and 70's and never considered doping.
He says doping is cheating. You can do that if you want to, in Johnston's words, "caress your ego."
"Really, ultimately you're cheating yourself, except that it does bring wealth and fame, in Lance's case, to do that," said Johnston.
There are others in the cycling community who point out that whether Armstrong is guilty of doping or not, he's certainly done a lot for his sport.
"He has done more for the sport of cycling in the United States than any one other athlete has done for the sport of cycling and I'd like for people to remember the positive part of that instead of remembering what has gone on with him in the past," said Mary Burrows, who works at Grand Strand Bicycles in Murrells Inlet.
Burrows says if all the great cyclists were also doping at the same time Armstrong was, maybe he was still number one in the world anyway.
Johnston adds, you have to keep Armstrong's legacy in perspective. Armstrong did, after all, raise a lot of money for his cancer foundation.
But, Johnston says, there's still a huge danger to doping.
"Is your racing more important than your life?" he asks.