He was America’s superstar cyclist inspiring cancer patients around the world, until a scandal put the brakes on Lance Armstrong’s reputation.
Iowans he touched are considering how they should view their hero, after the fact.
Dr. Richard Deming has been intertwined with Livestrong program in Des Moines for several years, helping cancer patients beat the odds through education and exercise.
Dr. Deming says those core values won’t change based on a new scandal surrounding the man who started it all.
“Even if all of that is true, the role that he has played in elevating cancer survivors, and the issue of cancer survivorship will remain regardless of what happened,” says Dr. Deming the Mercy Cancer Center Medical Director.
Livestrong at the YMCA specializes in classes for cancer survivors and patients. Dr. Deming says when Armstrong had a strong reputation, he used it for good.
“Regardless of what he says, I will just tell you, nobody in the world has done more to de-stigmatize what it means to be a cancer survivor what he means to have had cancer then Lance Armstrong,” says Dr. Deming.
On the cycling side, things may not be as positive.
“It was disappointing to hear that, but I guess it`s over with now, so I guess all we can do is clean the sport on and move on from there,” says Vance Fletcher of Chariton, Iowa.
Fletcher has been riding since he was little, and even caught up with Armstrong one day on RAGBRAI, saying he was an athlete he admired.
“With what he did winning seven tours, that`s pretty amazing being able to do that, so I thought he was an amazing cyclist. I mean he was definitely a role model, he was one of the guys I looked up too,” says Fletcher.
Fletcher went on to ride in college and is a freshman at Marian University in Indianapolis, and his team just won the collegiate Cyclo-cross national championship, the 20th in a row for the school.
Fletcher says he fears the sport will take a hit, and doesn’t want his own hard work and goals to be questioned based on another man’s reported indiscretions.
“I hope they don`t get the wrong impression about cycling and think that we`re all doping, because there is a lot of us out there that work hard and put a lot of time and effort into it and for something like that to happen it does tear down the sport,” says Fletcher.
Armstrong had already been stripped of his seven Tour de France medals. Thursday the International Olympic Committee asked him to return his bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics.