When Lance Armstrong announced that he was coming back, I thought it was the biggest mistake in retirement comeback history. Why? Because he's the only guy who, since he came into all our lives, is literally perfect on his sport's equivalent of the biggest stage.
Sure Armstrong was in the Tour De France before cancer ravaged his body, but the casual sports fan doesn't know that. To them, he's 7 for 7.
You could argue Michael Jordan made a similar mistake. He was 6 for 6, winning championships with the Chicago Bulls for the last six full seasons he played with them. Then he came back for two seasons with the Washington Wizards.
There's a difference here though. The NBA loved the fact that Jordan was coming back. Armstrong, on the other hand, is hated in France and isn't the most popular guy with the organizers of the Tour De France, to say the least.
When Armstrong announced he was coming back, the new Tour De France president said he has "embarrassed" the race. Armstrong said he was coming back to the sport to draw more attention to the fight against cancer. Last time I checked Armstrong was doing better than anyone in the world.
It's been my belief that if he wins, everyone expected him to win, but if he doesn't prevail in the Tour De France, he actually diminishes his legacy which will HURT the fight against cancer. I'm sorry to say this, but wearing a yellow wristband just won't be as cool if Armstrong finishes second next summer.
So I was glad to hear yesterday that it's not a done deal yet when Armstrong reportedly said that he had a problem with Tour De France organizers and that they hadn't responded to his announcing his return.
And it's not going to get better. There are many people who have control of the situation over there that would just love him to test positive just once. I'm sure there are people who do the lab work for the Tour De France who would love to find that elusive sample. Is it really worth for Armstrong--and for the fight against cancer for that matter--to risk that?
I've interviewed Armstrong about five times--after one interview I actually helped him tie a tie --and he's actually one of my all-time favorites. That's why I care a little bit more on this one. Lance, you are making a mistake. You are a relevant enough. You are the best spokesman the fight against cancer has ever had. Don't put that on the line. Don't allow for an opportunity that will make you anything less than one of the sporting world's greatest champions.
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