For the better part of a decade, it's looked an awful lot like seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong was doping. And for 10 years his fans, inspired by Armstrong's successful fight against cancer, defended him. Unfortunately, it's now clear that he lied to them all along, intimidated people who would testify against him, and behaved like, well, a big fat jerk.
Today, Armstrong's legacy came crashing down. After last week's damning 1,000-page report was released chronicling Armstrong's drug use, he has stepped down as chairman of Livestrong. And in the face of all the evidence, Nike has ended their relationship with Armstrong and released a statement that in a few short words expresses the disgust and disappointment so many feel on this issue:
Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner.
Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer.
It's a dark day for sports. While those who have long believed Armstrong's guilt may take some satisfaction in finally seeing justice served, all of those people who have been inspired by him over the years are deeply hurt. It's a reminder about putting too much faith into people we don't know. While athletes are role models, they're also human.
While Armstrong's athletic accomplishments have been tarnished and stripped, what he has done off of his bike shouldn't be diminished. He did a lot of good. So while today we see the end of Lance Armstrong, let's not forget the hope he inspired in people who desperately needed it.