Stillwater News Press

January 18, 2013

Cyclists say Armstrong made mistakes but applaud his foundation efforts

By Chase Rheam
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Amid controversy from the airing of an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Associated Press reports cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his Olympic bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sidney. Armstrong admitted to doping during his career in the interview. The second part of the two-part interview airs Friday night.

Stillwater cyclists have opinions on the confession. Mary Cash, with Cooper’s Bicycles, said the news is a mixed bag.

“Lance Armstrong made a mistake and it was bad for the people in the sport,” Cash said. “It hurt the sport. On the other hand, he’s done a lot of good both for the sport and for other people through his Livestrong Foundation. He has given back.”

Scott Nutt, who has taken part in multiple rides and travels approximately 6,100 miles a year while biking, agreed it was a let down personally, but Armstrong had used his name for good.

“I admired what he had done and I really admired how he used his position of celebrity for the Livestrong Foundation,” he said.

According to Armstrong’s official website, he announced his return to cycling and his promotion of the Livestrong Global Cancer Campaign at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City on Sept. 24, 2008. According to the Livestrong Foundation’s website, the group has raised more than $470 million since it’s inception in 1997. Armstrong resigned as chairman of the foundation last year.

Kevin Mussett, who has bicycled for approximately 18 years, thinks the potential impact will be small.

“I think it’s had its impact,” Mussett said. “I think most people with any knowledge probably knew before his admission that he had done it. I think if it was going to have an impact, it would have already happened.”

Mussett said the foundation’s impact has had such a positive effect, it’s hard to write Armstrong off because of the doping.

“I would say that we’re all disappointed in that,” Mussett said. “But because of what he did for bicycling, the awareness he created through bicycling, it would have been an obscure European sport had it not been for him.”

Cash said bicycling is not the only sport that deals with doping.

“I think it would be unfair to put bicycling as a sport under any greater microscope than say running because they’ve had issues with their medals being pulled,” Cash said. “It happens in every sport.”

Mussett said he hopes the sport of cycling would begin to clean itself up because of the Armstrong situation.

“But it’s quite familiar to baseball and football and other sports,” he said.

He said his hope is the disappointment and pressure from the public would prompt other cyclists to reconsider.

For Nutt, the sport was tarnished already.

“It’s a disappointment for sure to find out he was a part of that,” Nutt said. “But I think the entire field was doping.”

He said testing is always attempting to keep up with the latest performance enhancing drugs.

“I don’t think the system is foolproof and I think that pharmaceuticals and whatever they’re using for doping changes so quickly, it’s hard for them to run their program effectively,” Nutt said.

Cash said she hopes Armstrong’s confession will set an example for young athletes.

“I think it’s teaching the young people in this sport and other sports that you can’t get away with it, which is a good thing,” she said.

She said she doesn’t believe the announcement would have an impact on other’s view of the sport or the sale of bicycles because Armstrong is no longer a race leader.

Nutt agreed, saying he doesn’t believe it will impact those in Stillwater.

“I doubt it,” he said.

“I don’t think it will have a negative impact. Stillwater is experiencing amazing cycling growth.”