Cancer CureThis week, the USADA released “conclusive and undeniable proof” of Lance Armstrong’s doping conspiracy.

Within a day, eight of Armstrong’s sponsors – including Nike, Anheuser Busch, and Trek – examined the evidence and decided to sever their endorsement relationship with Armstrong. Lance even stepped down as chairman of his “Livestrong” foundation to shield the charity from the fallout.

Despite having never failed a drug test during his cycling heyday, Armstrong’s legacy is tainted. The fact that cycling’s tests over the years were never sophisticated enough to identify blood doping does not let Armstrong off the hook, today. The USADA in August stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France victories and banned him from competitive cycling.

A House of Cards

Nike’s statement regarding the termination of their contract with Armstrong boldy declares that Armstrong “misled” Nike for more than a decade. Nike is being diplomatic in this reference; I believe a better description of Armstrong’s stance is that he lied.

I do not live in Armstrong’s world so cannot speak to the reasons why he chose to deny the allegations all these years. And, it was only a matter of time before the evidence was pulled together and analyzed – and the “house of cards” regarding his blood doping would collapse.

Armstrong’s fall from grace gives us the opportunity to examine our own personal integrity. I define integrity as keeping your promises – doing what you say you will do. Personal integrity is not subtle; there are no shades of grey. You either demonstrate personal integrity or you don’t.

Your “word of honor” is reinforced daily when you do what you say or promise you will do. It is eroded daily when you don’t.

We are, each of us, imperfect beings in an imperfect world. I make mistakes every day! When I don’t accept responsibility for my mistakes – missed deadlines, less-than-desired quality of effort, etc. –  the evidence of my poor contribution is plain to see. If I attempt to mask or discount that evidence, my integrity takes a big hit.

The best we can do is:

  • Be intentional about what we promise, what we commit to do.
  • Accept responsibility for delivering on our promises. Inform key stakeholders of anticipated difficulties or delays.
  • Fess up when you make a mistake. Recover, and get back on track.

Armstrong has certainly done a marvelous job at beating cancer and creating a valuable foundation which continues that work; for this, we must honor him. The USADA’s evidence indicates that he cheated throughout his cycling career – and has yet to accept responsibility for his actions. For this, Armstrong’s integrity disappears.

I’d love you to join in the conversation about this podcast. In what ways are you most effective in living a life of integrity? Add your comments below.

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S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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Reader Interactions


  1. Great points Chris. Calling Armstrong’s situation a “house of cards” is spot on. Eventually the lies will catch up to you and your life will start crumbling around you.

    • Thanks, Randy!

      I’m sad to see this happen to Lance – he’s built such a strong brand and done so much for the battle against cancer.
      His brand will have a tough time of recovering.



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