Lance ArmstrongWhat is one supposed to do when a person you have looked up to for many years refuses to fight allegations of being a cheat? Lance Armstrong, seven times winner of the Tour de France, the most gruelling cycle race in the world, has today decided not to contest the allegations of drug taking lodged against him, leading to the conclusion that they do hold some truth.

I am sure that there are many, many cycling enthusiasts who will feel a huge amount of disillusionment at his decision. Armstrong. who overcame testicular cancer to return to the event, was a true hero of the sport and now stands to lose all his titles as well as a great deal of the love and respect he has built up over the years.

Cycling is just another sport that has been tainted by doping. Alberto Contador, currently lying in forth place in the Vuelta a Espana, the Tour of Spain has just returned to the sport after a ban for failing a doping test. The list of sportsmen and women who have been caught using performance enhancing drugs just continues to get longer.

Do these athletes get coerced into using drugs, by the pressure of sponsors or team managers for them to perform beyond their limit? Or is it the result of highly competitive people using every option available to them to make it to the top of their sport. It would be nice to think that they had little choice in the matter, but the doubt remains.

With sports coverage at an all time high, following the hugely successful London Olympics, its influence on youngsters is greater than ever. Whilst I am devastated by the news of my hero Armstrong, I feel he has to be given a substantial punishment, if only to send a sign out to these young people, that cheating is not the way to get to the top.

As with all figures in the public gaze, there comes, with the notoriety and rewards, a responsibility to behave in a way that sends out a positive message. Knowing how much his Tour wins meant to Armstrong, I wonder how he can now hold his head high in public? It’s a huge disappointment and I hope that the truth will finally be known.

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