Lance Armstrong was my hero. I remember the day I was first 'introduced' to him. I was among hundreds of aspirants who had queued up for the college placement drive.
The usual process of selection started with a briefing about the company profile and ended with the individual interview. But that day things were different. Before commencing with the procedure of recruitment, the company officials showed us a motivational video called "Everyday". It's available on YouTube even today.
The video had frame after frame about the national and world cycling champion, Olympic champion, winner of Tour de France, a man who trains for 12 hours everyday till the last frame showed Lance Armstrong on his cycle with the caption 'cancer survivor' written below. The video was inspiring. Legends such as Kapil Dev, Pele and Carl Lewis were part of it but Lance stole the show.
That day on, I started reading up about Lance's life, hard work and commitment towards his sport, cycling. Whenever I felt low, I would remember his motto, 'live strong'.
For the past few years whenever he was accused of doping, I dismissed the idea as far-fetched. My belief in the survivor was steadfast.
On January 18, 2013, however, my hero confessed in an interview to TV show hostess Oprah Winfrey that he had been taking steroids. I sat shocked and felt cheated. There must have been many fans like me who would have felt let down on listening to the disgraced legend.
When Winfrey asked Armstrong, "Did you feel bad doing all this? Did you feel that you were cheating?" his reply was "no".
Then she asked him if it would have been possible to win seven Tour de France titles without doping and he still answered in the negative.
He lied and he cheated because his desire to win was ruthless.
Besides being a sports hero, Lance spelt hope for millions of people around the world who are suffering from cancer because he himself was a cancer survivor. He won the toughest battle of his life.
The wallpaper on my desktop supported a picture of Lance with the words defiance, action and courage written below.
Being a fan I stand for him and say, "His defiance was that he cheated and he lied. His action was that he loved to train and win. And his courage was that he admitted and confessed."
But today will it be possible for his fans to stand by him in these demanding times? I feel stronger for his confession.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org