Back in August, Lance Armstrong’s ban on cycling competitions was partially lifted. Some groaned, some were excited. Others didn’t care. While Armstrong proclaims that he has changed and is rebuilding his brand, some question if this could hurt the cycling industry. Will it make everyone look bad to welcome him back? Who knows, but what has done in the past few weeks to help cycling is exciting.
Armstrong, who was stripped of 7 titles, was cleared to resume competition back on August 24th – but it currently isn’t clear if he will or not. He is available to compete at most events, sans sanctioned cycling events, making his comeback entirely possible. In the meantime, Armstrong has embarked on a new state-side project: The Aspen Mountain Bike Event. With part of his suspension behind him, Armstrong, through his new fitness group WEDU, has helped organize the Aspen 50, a new mountain bike event this September that features “some of the Roaring Fork Valley’s best trails.” It’s not a competitive event this year. “While this inaugural ride is not actually a race, you can expect some truly fast riders to be leading the way as soon as the pedaling starts,” said Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association Executive Director Mike Pritchard.
Another problem maybe brewing for Armstrong, in the form of the Feds. Apparently, they still have not forgotten about his doping scandal. Earlier in 2016, the Feds called Armstrong “a doper, dealer, and liar” who abused his position and power to enhance his legacy, status and fortune. It is seeking nearly $100 million in damages from Armstrong, in a huge fraud case. The Feds are seeking reimbursement for USPS, namely, as well as a few other sponsors who gave Armstrong extravagant fees over the years. USPS alone paid him over $40 million dollars over the years they sponsored him. It’s the latest trading of blows between two heavyweights – The United States vs. Lance Armstrong, a civil case that’s been roiling since 2013, shortly after Armstrong finally confessed to using banned drugs and blood transfusions to boost his performance on the bike. Under the False Claims Act, the government could get that money back times three if its case succeeds– nearly $100 million, with Armstrong possibly on the hook for all of it.
Could this lawsuit actually proceed? Sure – many others have. Armstrong may be out a ton of funds, but with the majority of races he is able to race, his comeback may be coming up. Even while banned (or suspended, take your pick), Armstrong has kept fans updated on his podcast called The Forward – which takes shape on everything from life to, well, taking shape. Should you forgive him? It’s up to you – but with the good work that he is doing in the cycling business, he way make his way back to the forefront soon.