‘Don’t break the heart that loves you….’ Lance Armstrong fights doping charges by ’60 Minutes’… but this time they have teeth.

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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note.  There was that quavery, achy-breaky  tone in her voice that made you believe Connie Francis’ world was crumbling… that respect, trust, love were gone and her heart was broken, all because one lover was true and the other… wasn’t.

The name of one of these songs was “Don’t Break the Heart that Loves You“. (1962). You’ll find it in any search  engine. Listen to it once or twice… before you read here of the real-life tempests and troubles of a man who’s breaking our hearts right now… and it hurts.

Lance Armstrong,  the very essence of grit and determination.

Lance Armstrong is as American a story as you’ll ever find.

He was born September 18, 1971 at Methodist Hospital in Oak Cliff, Texas, the southern sector of Dallas.  His mother Linda Mooneyham was a secretary; his father Eddie Gunderson worked for “The Dallas Morning News”, as a route manager. He was named after Lance Rentzel, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver. His home life was chaotic; his mother married and divorced three times… and so poisoned are the confused relationships that Armstrong doesn’t speak to his father and has been caustic about Terry  Keith Armstrong, the man his mother married and who adopted him.

In short, like millions of his countrymen, there was mayhem at home, not love. And Lance Armstrong wanted love… Sports were the way to get it… escape, recognition, acceptance… and above all love.

Armstrong got active in sports for the first time when, aged 12, he finished fourth in Texas state 1,500-meter freestyle. But when he saw a poster for a junior triathlon he ditched swimming. It was a good move. In 1987-1988, Armstrong was the number one ranked triathlete in the 19-and-under group. It was now that people began, with seriousness, to look at Lance… and the magnificent body God gave him. It was the vehicle to move out… to move on… to move up…

Armstrong’s point total  for 1987 as an amateur was better than the five professionals ranked that year. At 16, Armstrong became a professional triathlete and became national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990 at 18 and 19, respectively.

A boy and his bike.

Every American boy wants a bike…a bike he can use to get away from mamma… and taste freedom… a bike he can pound, dance wheelies, maneuver with show-off arrogance… and no hands. Yeah, every boy needs a bike. Lance Armstrong did, too. In short order he and his bike had fused; Lance needed his bike… and his bike needed him. They were an unbeatable team, soaring, energized… true grit, the centaur of the course, a phenomenon that made, even in these early days, the crowd scream his name as he whirled by, the ultimate manifestation of what every boy with a bike could feel and imagine…

It became supremely clear that Lance’s greatest talent was for bicycle racing after he won the U.S. amateur championship in 1991. Representing the United States, he finished 14th in the 1992 Summer Olympics. And now the money came; it was the folks at Motorola who got there first. They wanted what the whirligig of Armstrong could deliver… speed, grace, excitement, and the thrill of escape from everyday woes and oppressions.

In 1993, Armstrong won 10 one-day events and races. He stunned the cycling world when at age 21, he became one of the youngest riders to ever win the UCI Road World Championship, held in pouring rain in Norway…. and so it went, dazzling speed, even more dazzling endurance his to command and ours to exult. We loved this boy… and the smile he flashed us as he sped by… he was our Lance.

The big “C”.

And so it might have gone… more prizes, more victories, more fame, and the money that pours in such situations. But fate, wide-grinning fate, was not finished with Lance Armstrong, not by a  long shot. On October 2, 1996, aged just 25, Armstrong was diagnosed as having developed stage three testicular cancer. The cancer spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. On that first visit to a urologist in Austin, Texas for his cancer symptoms, he was coughing up blood and had a large, painful testicular tumor. Immediate surgery and chemotherapy were required to save a life which had now taken a very painful turn.

But here is where the story of Lance Armstrong morphs into something greater, more compelling, and infinitely more important. For now, to the admiration of all, he becomes the very embodiment of American grit and determination, a man of gallantry and fortitude, a hero for our times. And so Lance Armstrong  showed the nation and the world what real courage was all about.

He got back on his bike and turned it into a symbol of hope. And we loved him, if possible, even more… for he carried on his handlebars the best of us…

Tour de France

Before his cancer treatment began, Armstrong had already won two Tour de France stages.  Now, a cancer survivor, he wanted to show the world not so much what he could do… but what they could do for themselves if they would never quit, never waver, never doubt, never throw in the towel or pity themselves. Lance was never about pity. He was about being the best you could be whatever your affliction. And the grueling  stages of the Tours of France,(which he won 18 times) became a manifesto to the world about rising above and winning the great game of life, whatever stood in your way.

Oh, had it all just ended there… on such a note of bliss and transcendence; even his bitterest foe might wish as much.

But it did not, has not ended there… wide-grinning fate has seen to that.

Throughout Armstrong’s career, there have been charges he achieved his great feats solely or in large measure because of performance-enhancing drugs. These are charges he has adamantly, unequivocally denied, pointing to his willingness to take hundreds of drug tests. But the charges have persisted over time, gaining credibility and adherents. Now the most substantial of these charges has been made on CBS’ respected “Sixty Minutes” program (May 20, 2011) by former U.S. cycling professional Tyler Hamilton.

The cornerstone of Armstrong’s defense against previous charges was that he had never tested positive during his career. But this was flatly contradicted by his former U.S. Postal team-mate Hamilton on “Sixty Minutes”. “I know he’s had a positive test before,” Hamilton said. “For EPO (at the) Tour of Switzerland, 2001.” Asked by the CBS reporter Scott Pelley how  this alleged positive test had not been made public and no action taken, Hamilton said “People took care of it.”

Armstrong through his attorney instantly answered this and the other charges, and immediately threatened to sue. But CBS is holding its ground, since they have credibility to protect too. Both sides know the seriousness of this matter… a fight perhaps to the death.

As for Lance’s fans; they are fewer now, quieter, reflective.They are hurting bad, afflicted, unhappy. They want their boy back, riding like the wind past them, arrayed with dazzling smile, victory in his pocket. We loved that boy and everything about him… he was ours. Now he’s slipping away…

Connie Francis knew everything about that, about the misery, the longing, the brutal unhappiness and regret when love goes bad. “Don’t break this heart of mine…Don’t break this heart that loves you so…”

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About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc. providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.

Republished with author’s permission by Graham Lee – The Income Zone

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