An American takes Paris

July 28, 1999

Here is an excerpt of an editorial from the New York Times, which was published yesterday.

THE cycling world venerates the Tour de France, a race that generally covers about 2,500 miles, including a climb through mountains that makes this one of the most challenging events in all of sport.

This year, an American led for 14 of the 20 stages and cruised into Paris more than seven minutes ahead of his rivals.

Lance Armstrong's performance would have been remarkable in any case, but seems miraculous given that he was diagnosed just three years ago with an aggressive form of testicular cancer that had reached his abdomen, lungs and brain.

The French press suggested that he was using performance-enhancing drugs. In actuality he was using an ordinary cortisone cream to treat saddle sores, which produced legal trace amounts of the drug in his urine.

When pressed about how he could perform at such a high level so soon after so grave an illness, the 27-year-old Texan said: "You have to believe in yourself. You have to fight. You have to hold the line." Few champions have applied those words more vividly in sports, and in their lives.

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