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Retracted: November 2013

I had the opportunity to interview Lance Armstrong in June of 2006. At the time, Armstrong had just retired from cycling, and was considered one of the most prominent figures in sport. Having beat cancer, won the Tour de France seven times, and raised millions for cancer research, Armstrong inspired millions to “Livestrong.”

In June of 2012 the United States Anti-Doping Agency filed an extensive report concluding that Armstrong participated in “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” In January of 2013, Armstrong admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he used banned substances in all of his Tour de France wins.

In light of the overwhelming evidence against Armstrong, as well as his admission this past year, I have chosen to retract my interview.

I have decided not to remove the interview from my website for a few reasons. First, Lance’s deception transcended corporate sponsorships and the “yellow jersey.” I feel that keeping our exchange on my website reflects the scope of his lie. Not only did he cheat to win a race, he told millions of kids (including myself) a false narrative.

Finally, erasing the interview would negate the positive impact Lance has had. Despite his vast flaws as an athlete and a humanitarian, Armstrong raised millions for cancer research. While the decisions Armstrong made may forever tarnish his legacy, he will always be remembered as a survivor and an advocate for those suffering from cancer.

I encourage you to donate to the charity that Lance founded, the Livestrong foundation (www.livestrong.org). While Lance may no longer be affiliated with the charity he founded, the awareness that he brought to the plight of cancer victims should not be ignored.

 

 

 

An Interview With

Lance Armstrong
June 10, 2006

 

 

"Challenge people along the way with questions and second opinions."

"Treat each day as the first day of the rest of your life."

" Do what you can with your time to leave a mark."

- Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong was born in 1971 in Plano, Texas. In his book, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, it is clear that cycling has been his life's passion. He says, "It's liberation and independence, your first set of wheels. A bike is freedom to roam, without rules and without parents." When I asked him about his childhood, he explained, "I was not good at the traditional ball sports as a child, but I really enjoyed the bike. People view cycling as my job, but to me, it has always been something that I have enjoyed." From his earliest years, his mother had a positive influence on his life. He says she raised him with an unbending rule: "Make every obstacle an opportunity." Armstrong told me, "My mom was my best friend growing up and she taught me so much of what I know today."

What makes his story so inspiring starts with his diagnosis of cancer. In 1996, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his brain. His chance of overcoming this cancer was very slim. In the book he described his diagnosis of cancer was "like being run off the road by a truck." Lance worked hard until he got what he wanted, the cure. I asked him about the term "personal commitment" that he used in his book. He explained, "When I was diagnosed, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about the disease. I made a commitment to find out all I could and to challenge people along the way with questions and second opinions. To me, there was no other choice." Again, his mother played a large supportive role. Armstrong added, "When I got sick, we really leaned on each other and learned a ton about the illness, but also about each other."

Following his illness, he resumed cycling and went on to win seven Tours de France, from 1999-2005. In 1999, he was named ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year. In 2002, Sports Illustrated magazine named him Sportsman of the Year. He was also named Asssociated Press Male Athlete of the Year for 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. He received ESPN's ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete in 2003, 2004, and 2005. In September 2004, "The Poll", conducted by Sports Illustrated ranked Lance Armstrong the best sports role model over the past 50 years. With 34% of the votes, he was far ahead of Ali with 16%, Ashe with 16%, and Gretzky with 14%.

Now retired from professional cycling, Armstrong devotes much time to increase cancer awareness and funding. He told me, "We need to ask the hard questions of our elected officials. We need to put pressure on these folks to make cancer a national priority. If that means asking the hard question, then that is what I am prepared to do." He added, "Cancer is clearly the next challenge in my life. It is unfortunate to see anyone suffering from the disease, but especially children."

Bono tells us why Armstrong is the best to lead the fight. "We need winners advocating for the poor and the vulnerable. We need people who hate losing. Lance hates losing."

I was privileged to meet Lance. He spoke at my school's Senior Commencement on June 10, 2006. Lance is truly inspiring, not just by what he has to say, but by the way he speaks and the way he listens. When I asked him about the message he is trying to send, he explained, "Do all you can to make a difference. Do what you can with your time to leave a mark."