The race is over for Lance Armstrong, but the question remains: What lasting impact will his years of cheating and denying have on the future of cycling and other sports?

Cheating isn’t new, especially not in the sport of cycling, but Armstrong is no run-of-the-mill cheat.

His achievements, in the world of cycling as well as cancer charity fundraising and his inspirational role, have been unprecedented.

Now, stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, banned from the sport for life, dropped by his sponsors and forced to step away from his own charity after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency accused him of leading a massive doping program, his fall has been dramatic.

Armstrong continues to deny the accusations against him, even as one after another former teammate has come forward to accuse him in what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency called “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

There is no longer any shadow of doubt that the allegations that have long hung over Lance Armstrong are true. His failure to acknowledge years of cheating, however, will continue to hurt the sport and have a spillover effect on other sports.

Cycling has a particular problem. So many cyclists have been banned or disciplined for doping that it would be difficult to find suitable riders to whom to award the seven Tour de France victories taken away from Armstrong.

Cycling’s governing body says those years will remain blank.

It will be difficult to build public trust in cycling when the most winning athlete the sport has ever known masterminds a massive deception and continues to lie about it. And it is bound to breed cynicism about other sports as well.

That is Armstrong’s legacy.

— Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 22

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