The Fall and Rise of Lance Armstrong?

As a cycling fan 2012 was fantastic. 2013 has got off to a mixed start.

The good news? The route for the 2014 stages of the Tour de France in the UK has been announced, and on the third day it starts in Cambridge, comes down to the Olympic Park and ends on the Mall. Will it come through Wormley? I hope so, that would be fantastic! Regardless of whether or not it does, I shall be there at the roadside cheering my sporting heroes on.

The bad news? The public admission by Lance Armstrong on Oprah Winfrey’s show that he had doped on all of the Tours he won. I remain a keen Tour fan, but am left me questioning the Tours of that time that I loved so much. Were the monumental athletic achievements what they appeared to be? I also feel very sorry for those who weren’t doping at the time.

In a key exchange Winfrey asked: “Did it feel wrong?

Armstrong replied: “No. Scary.”

“Did you feel bad?”

“No. Even scarier.”

“Did you feel that you were cheating?”

“No. The scariest.”

Armstrong continued: “The definition of a cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field. I didn’t understand the magnitude of that. The important thing is that I’m beginning to understand it… I see the anger in people, betrayal. It’s all there. People who believed in me and supported me and they have every right to feel betrayed and it’s my fault and I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologise to people.”

As we live our lives as Christians today, Lance’s description of his perception of what he was doing is perhaps a warning for us. It is all to easy for us to measure our behaviour by the behaviour of those around us. The standard we should measure ourselves against, however, is Christ, a measure I know I fall short of, as do we all. Is this a reason to change our standard or deny where we’re at? No, it is only as we bring our failings into the light that we open the way for God to work in us by his Spirit. And this is why, saddened as I am by what Armstrong has done, that I am pleased that he has come clean, for now, if his confession is genuine, he has opened himself to God’s redemptive power.


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