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Our view: Armstrong’s legacy of lying, cheating

Cheating, sadly, has become all too commonplace in American society.

Whether it’s to get ahead in school, the workplace or any other facet of life, too many Americans have embraced cheating as the easy way to stay ahead of the competition.

Cheating comes in many forms. In the sports world the past couple of decades, cheating largely has centered around the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The list of athletes whose legacies have been tarnished after it was revealed they took drugs such as steroids and HGH is a long one.

Barry Bonds. Roger Clemens. Marion Jones. Ben Johnson. Shawne Merriman.

While it’s long been suspected that seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was a part of that list, it became official this week. On Monday, Armstrong admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs. That interview will be broadcast in two parts starting tonight on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

A former triathlete who began to focus exclusively on cycling in the early 1990s, Armstrong’s story is well-documented. In 1996, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that also had spread to his brain and lungs. After a couple of surgeries and extensive chemotherapy, he beat the disease and resumed competing.

During his record Tour de France run, he often was accused of doping, but he was steadfast in his denials. Perhaps his greatest sin was how aggressively – and undeservedly, we now know – he attacked the character of his accusers.

As his successes mounted and his popularity grew, the cancer-support organization that Armstrong founded, Livestrong, exploded. Since 1997, it has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to help improve the quality of life of cancer patients and survivors.

There’s little doubt that Armstrong has done a world of good in the cancer-fighting community. But that does not excuse his cheating, or his years of deception and character assassination of others.

Livestrong hopefully will live on. It has done too much good to be tainted by Armstrong’s lies. But Armstong’s legacy is forever tarnished. He let millions of fans down – by cheating, by lying about it, and by disingenuously attacking others.

We hope his story is a lesson for those who consider cheating to get ahead.

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