The 2013 Tour de France is in full swing. But the competition has not garnered much media attention. This lack of attention from the press is a reflection of the public indifference toward the tour.
This indifference on the part of the public is not limited to the Tour de France. It has been extended to Lance Armstrong, who dominated the sport in the past 15 years. Although he always had many critics, Armstrong was widely admired by most Americans. In the wake of the revelations that showed conclusively that he took banned substances, that bond between the public and Armstrong was irreparably broken. After his fall from grace, the public’s interest in Armstrong has faded completely.
For most of his career, Armstrong was dogged by doping allegations. However, Armstrong steadfastly refuted all those accusations. Although some people were suspicious that Armstrong’s dominance at the Tour de France might be fueled by performance enhancing drugs, his strong denials convinced most people that he was clean.
While Armstrong was competing at the Tour de France, the use of banned substances was endemic among the top cyclists. Despite the widespread use of those substances, the public was still willing to give Armstrong the benefit of doubt.
After spending more than a decade denying that he took performance enhancing drugs, Armstrong reversed course this year. An exhaustive investigation that was conducted by the cycling governing body revealed his doping regimen. Following the inquiry, he decided to confess to Oprah Winfrey that most of the allegations that were made against over the years were indeed true.
In deciding to confess, Armstrong must have hoped that the public would not shun him. In the wake of his confession, Armstrong became nothing short of a pariah. Not only did he get banned from cycling, his career as a corporate pitchman came to a screeching halt. All his corporate backers deserted him. In fact, his image is so tarnished, Armstrong was forced to distance himself from Livestrong, a charity that he created in order to help find a cure against cancer.
Although Armstrong is gearing up to participate in a cycling exhibition in Iowa, he no longer commands the public attention. For more than a decade, Armstrong was one of the most celebrated athletes in the country. But now, most people consider him a villain. Worse yet, he slipped out of the public consciousness. Becoming irrelevant might be a worse fate for Armstrong than being a villain.