Legendary yet disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who will soon be facing the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) Independent Commission on doping charges, recently confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs. He made this confession to news talk show host Oprah Winfrey. His stint with doping has raised questions on his achievements as a seven-time Tour de Frances champion and provided plenty of fodder for criticism, sympathy and late-night jokes in the media. Speak Up brings you the opinions
He should give up sponsorship money
Ethically, it will be wrong for Armstrong to keep the sponsorship money he received all these years. The sponsorship he got was only on the basis of his performance as a cyclist, which in turn was because of doping. Today, because of his confession to doping and his stature as a famous athlete, there is a discussion among sporting circles that whether all famous athletes have doped at some time or the other. The credibility of top sportsmen is now under attack. However, people have a lot of respect for Armstrong as they feel that to win seven Tour de Frances and overcome cancer is a huge achievement. To restore credibility to sports, strong action against authorities who dope should be taken. It is demoralising for sportsmen who do not dope, as they might feel that doping athletes have better chances of winning. The person who came second to Armstrong should be given his medals in Tour de France.
Sangram Chaphekar, former national level tennis player
Armstrong doped to fight cancer
One thing to keep in mind is that Lance Armstrong did doping when he was fighting cancer. He may have done so as per the advice of the doctor or the coach. His achievements were not only because of doping. If that is the argument, anyone can dope and become a champion. He was an outstanding athlete and that is the reason for his victories. Doping only gives an edge when there are two perfectly matched competitors. Whether he should return the money is up to him to decide and not anyone else. The cycling bodies must take the relevant legal action against him. Though, the bodies will take action now to ensure cycling bodies are doping-free, in practice, it is very difficult to stop doping completely. No matter what controls are put, people find ways to dope. Awareness among athletes about the harmful effects of doping should be created. However, in India, doping among cyclists is not a major issue.
Pratap Jadhav, secretary, Maharashtra Cycling Association
Anti-doping bodies must follow rules
In the wake of the Armstrong case, the international sporting bodies and anti-doping bodies must strictly follow the rules they have devised to prevent doping. The International Olympic Association must see to it that the affiliated bodies also follow these rules. As far as I know, such an incident has never occurred in India or Pune at least in wrestling. We follow all rules against doping in our tournaments. I would not comment whether he should return the money he got as sponsorship.
Balasaheb Landge, head, Maharashtra Wrestling Association
The legend should surrender medals
I do not feel that Armstrong should give back the money he received as sponsorship. He was using the money for his cancer foundation and not misusing it. The demand that his medals should be given to the second placed persons is a fair one and is as per the norms and regulations. While what he did is wrong, it is also wrong to single him out. He is not the only athlete who has doped. No matter what steps the bodies take, it is very difficult to control doping among cyclists. Those who want to dope will dope. Cycling in India does not have major issues of doping.
Omkar Jadhav, national-level cyclist
His Achievements are due to doping
Lance Armstrong must return all the sponsorship money he has received so far, as all his achievements are due to doping. The sponsorship money he has received is because of doping. He should also return all his medals to the runners-up as they deserve it. They would have got his medals if he had not doped. As a sportsman, I feel that the sports bodies need to be strict about conducting doping tests before events and tournaments. Sports will also benefit as it will become more credible. Strict action must be taken against Armstrong and anyone who dopes.
Abdullah Popere, college-level volleyball player
He didn’t succeed due to doping
I do not think it is fair to say that the money Lance Armstrong got as sponsorship should be returned. Armstrong did not win only through doping, he was a very good athlete. There may be many athletes who dope but most do not win or are champions like him. Doping is not the reason for his success. It is also unfair to demand that the runners-up should be given his medals. They do not deserve them as they were not good as he is. The immediate action that can be taken against him is that he should be thoroughly investigated. He should be barred from associating directly or indirectly with cycling competitions forever. The cycling bodies must be strict to ensure that doping does not take place at all.
Tahera Bharmal, college level basketball player