331. Lance Armstrong: American Hero or Villain?

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There is no American sports celebrity is as controversial as Lance Armstrong. Armstrong enjoyed years of glory from adoring American public during his cycling career for nearly a decade. Between 1999 through 2005, Armstrong won the famous Tour de France road cycling event seven consecutive years. This is a feat that no other person in the history of the famed race has ever accomplished. He was an American hero who benefited greatly from his fame and fortune. During those years, no other athlete in the United States was more popular than Armstrong.

Armstrong was born in 1971 in Plano, Texas. By the age of 12, he had been competing in swimming competitions with great success. At 16, Armstrong began competing in the grueling triathlon races, where contestants must cycle, swim, and run for several miles. His Tour de France records were superior to any other racer in the history of the annual event, which began in 1903. However, Armstrong had a dark side.

After he retired from competition in 2011, allegations of drug use began to surface. The United States Anti-Doping Agency began investigating the cyclist, and eventually found he had used performance-enhancing drugs during his years competing in the Tour de France.

Armstrong denied any wrongdoing, but the USADA stripped him of his titles. He was also barred from ever competing professionally again. This was followed by a lifetime ban from the Union Cycliste Internationale, an international racing organization. Armstrong did not admit to using drugs until January, 2013 on the Oprah Winfrey Show. He claimed that he was not the only athlete using drugs on the tour, and that he was being singled out because of his success. However, that did not matter; this American hero had fallen.

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