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An Irish cancer survivor writes an open letter to Lance Armstrong
Posted at 12:36 Fri 18th Jan 2013 GMT
Image: Niall Farrell
This powerful letter to Lance Armstrong was written by Irish journalist, researcher and NGO worker Niall Farrell. He has kindly given us permission to share it with you.
You saved me. As a 13 year-old boy, recovering from cancer, I needed a hero. I had to stop playing sport, I could barely look at myself in the mirror and I was convinced that any time I went outside people would stare at my scar. Then, my aunt gave me your book. I read it in two days. It changed my life. There you were; Tour de France champion, father, survivor. Your message to me was simple- there is a silver lining. Cancer made you stronger. I believed you wholeheartedly. I preached your gospel. If I beat cancer, I can beat anything, just like you. I told all my friends with cancer about you. We all wore your yellow wristbands. I’d tell people, still going through treatment, about your story. It inspired everyone. It inspired me to accept myself, and go on to university. I volunteered with younger people going through treatment. I even volunteered with your organisation, Livestrong. At the Global Cancer Summit in 2009, you walked past me and waved. That’ll be something to tell the grandchildren, I said.
I defended you, even in the face of what seemed like conclusive evidence that you doped. I went on forums, waded into discussions about you and would not accept any of the doping allegations. In my head, I knew that you doped all along. But I just wouldn’t let my hero, the person who made me believe again, be destroyed.
But you lied. You lied to me and everyone else. You needed EPO to win. You said on the Oprah interview that you didn’t think it was possible for anyone to win seven Tours without doping. On top of that, you bullied journalists, fellow cyclists and anyone else who dared question you. You were ruthless and relentless, as you said to Oprah, but to blame that on a failure to adapt to life after treatment is sickening. Stop using cancer as an excuse Lance. You made us believe in you, made us part of your egotistical madness. You admit that you were an “arrogant prick”. But you still try to cultivate sympathy around you. I can never feel sympathy for you. I can never understand why you chose not only to cheat, but to give millions such false hope.
Give it up now.
Yours in sport,