Who is Lance Armstrong: Biography, Personal Life, Career and Net Worth
|Who is Lance Armstrong: Biography, Early Life, Career, Personal Life, Net Worth. Photo: Courtesy of Sony Picture Classics
Lance Edward Armstrong (born September 18, 1971) is an American former professional road racing cyclist. Regarded as a sports icon for winning the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005, Armstrong's reputation was tarnished by a doping scandal that led to him being stripped of his Tour de France titles. Here are his biography, early life, career, personal life, and net worth.
Who is Lance Armstrong?
|Photo: EPA/Olivier Hoslet
Lance Armstrong is an American former professional road racing cyclist who fell from glory following a doping scandal. Once counted amongst the most illustrious and influential athletes of the 21st century, he became the first American to win the Classico San Sebastian and was ranked as the No.1 cyclist in the world, in 1996. Stricken with a potentially fatal metastatic testicular cancer at the height of his career, he fought all odds to defeat the disease and emerged a survivor. He went on to achieve even greater glory after returning to cycling after his cancer scare. From the years 1999 to 2005, Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles consecutively, making his mark in the athletic world. He accomplished much during his glorious career as a cyclist and retired from racing at the end of the 2005 Tour de France. He returned to competitive cycling a few years later, finishing third in the 2009 Tour de France. Considered to be a hero at the time of his retirement for his cycling achievements and courageous battle against cancer, his image went downhill in 2012 after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency charged him with using performance-enhancing drugs. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and is currently banned from competing in all the cycling events, including the Olympics.
Early Life And Education
|Photo: Getty Images
Armstrong was born Lance Edward Gunderson on September 18, 1971, at Methodist Hospital in Richardson, Texas, the son of Linda Gayle (née Mooneyham), a secretary, and Eddie Charles Gunderson (died 2012), a route manager for The Dallas Morning News. He is of Canadian, Dutch, and Norwegian descent. He was named after Lance Rentzel, a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver. His parents divorced in 1973 when Lance was two. The next year, his mother married Terry Keith Armstrong, a wholesale salesman, who adopted Lance that year.
Lance Armstrong turned professional in 1992 with the Motorola Cycling Team. He won 10 one-day events and stage races in 1993 but his crowning glory was the victory in the World Road Race Championship held in Norway.
He touched great heights over the next few years, winning the Thrift Drug Classic in 1994, the Clásica de San Sebastián in 1995, and Tour DuPont in 1995 and 1996, among other victories. In 1996, he became the first American to win the La Flèche Wallonne and finished 6th in the time trial in the 1996 Olympic Games.
In 1996, the rising sports star was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer. He underwent extensive treatment and was declared cancer-free in 1997. He returned to his passion, cycling, and made his comeback in 1998 when he finished fourth in the Vuelta a España.
In July 1999, Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France, the sport’s most prestigious race, becoming the second American to do so. During this race, allegations of him using drugs first surfaced. He dismissed the allegations and went on to win six more Tour de France until 2005.
In 2000, he penned his autobiography ‘It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life’. The book covers the events in his life from childhood to the 1999 Tour de France and the birth of his first child. A follow-up titled ‘Every Second Counts’ was released in 2003.
Armstrong retired from racing in 2005 but returned to competitive racing in 2009, finishing third in the 2009 Tour de France later that year. He retired for a second time in 2011.
Lance Armstrong had been facing doping allegations ever since winning the 1999 Tour de France. For several years he kept denying the charges.
Based on the blood samples from the years 2009 to 2010, Armstrong was charged with using performance-enhancing drugs, by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, in June 2012. Armstrong did not contest the charges and received a lifetime ban from competing in all sports that follow the World Anti-Doping Agency code.
After vehemently denying the allegations for years, he finally admitted in 2013, during a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey, that some of the allegations were true..
Once a celebrated hero, he fell from glory and was stripped of all of his achievements after 1998, including his seven Tour de France titles. He was also stripped off his Olympic Bronze Medal, which he won at the 2000 Sydney Games, by the International Olympic Committee, in 2013.
|Photo: Getty Images
After beating a potentially fatal form of cancer, Armstrong founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997 for supporting people affected by the disease. The foundation has raised more than $325 million for cancer research.
He also founded the ‘LiveStrong’ brand and store in 2004, which raised a large part of the funds for his cancer foundation.
Along with other athletes like Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Warrick Dunn, Jeff Gordon, Mia Hamm, and Tony Hawk, he co-founded Athletes for Hope in 2007. The organization helps professional athletes become involved in charitable causes and aims to inspire non-athletes to volunteer and support the community.
Armstrong owns homes in Austin, Texas, and Aspen, Colorado, as well as a ranch in the Texas Hill Country.
Relationships and children
Armstrong met Kristin Richard in June 1997. They married on May 1, 1998, and had three children: a son (born October 1999) and twin daughters (born November 2001). The pregnancies were made possible through sperm Armstrong banked three years earlier, before chemotherapy and surgery. The couple divorced in 2003. At Armstrong's request, his children flew to Paris for the Tour de France podium ceremony in 2005, where his son Luke helped his father hoist the trophy, while his daughters (in yellow dresses) held the stuffed lion mascot and bouquet of yellow flowers.
Lance and Kristin Armstrong announced their divorce in 2003, the same year that Lance began dating singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow. The couple announced their engagement in September 2005 and their split in February 2006.
In July 2008, Armstrong began dating Anna Hansen after meeting through Armstrong's charity work. In December 2008, Armstrong announced that Hansen was pregnant with the couple's first child. Although it was believed that Armstrong could no longer father children due to having undergone chemotherapy for testicular cancer, the child was conceived naturally. They have a son (born June 2009) and a daughter (born October 2010).
In 1997, Armstrong founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which supports people affected by cancer. The foundation raises awareness of cancer and has raised more than $325 million from the sale of yellow Livestrong bracelets. During his first retirement beginning after the 2005 season, he also maintained other interests. He was the pace car driver of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 for the 2006 Indianapolis 500. In 2007, Armstrong with Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Warrick Dunn, Jeff Gordon, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Andrea Jaeger, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mario Lemieux, Alonzo Mourning, and Cal Ripken, Jr. founded Athletes for Hope, a charity that helps professional athletes become involved in charitable causes and aims to inspire non-athletes to volunteer and support the community.
In August 2009, Armstrong headlined the inaugural charity ride "Pelotonia" in Columbus, Ohio, riding over 100 miles on Saturday with the large group of cyclists. He addressed the riders the Friday evening before the two-day ride and helped the ride raise millions for cancer research. Armstrong ran the 2006 New York City Marathon with two friends. He assembled a pace team of Alberto Salazar, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Hicham El Guerrouj to help him reach three hours. He finished in 2h 59m 36s, in 856th place. He said the race was extremely difficult compared to the Tour de France. The NYC Marathon had a dedicated camera on Armstrong throughout the event which, according to Armstrong, pushed him to continue through points in which he would have normally "stopped and stretched". He also helped raise $600,000 for his LiveStrong campaign during the run. Armstrong ran the 2007 NYC Marathon in 2h 46m 43s, finishing 232nd. On April 21, 2008, he ran the Boston Marathon in 2h 50m 58s, finishing in the top 500.
Armstrong made a return to triathlon in 2011 by competing in the off-road XTERRA Triathlon race series. At the Championships Armstrong led for a time before crashing out on the bike and finishing in 23rd place. The following year, in 2012, Armstrong began pursuing qualification into the 2012 Ironman World Championship. He was scheduled to next participate in Ironman France on June 24. However, the June suspension by USADA and eventual ban by WADA prohibited Armstrong from further racing Ironman branded events due to World Triathlon Corporation anti-doping policies.
In July 2011 and July 2013, Armstrong participated in the non-competitive Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.
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What is Lance Armstrong's net worth?
Lance Armstrong is an American professional cyclist, author and public speaker who has a net worth of $50 million. At the peak of his career, Lance's net worth was $125 million and growing rapidly.
Lance was at one time among the highest-earning athletes in the world, regularly earning up to $20 million+ per year from endorsements and prize money. For several years of his retirement, before his scandals really exploded, Lance continued to earn roughly $15 million per year from speaking engagements, public appearance fees and sponsorships.
What is Lance Armstrong doing now?
|Photo: Bleacher Report
Lance Armstrong today is shooting ESPN's The Lance Armstrong documentary. The documentary titled LANCE focuses on the American cyclist's rapid rise to fame, his battles with cancer, his Tour de France titles and his dramatic fall. The Lance Armstrong documentary will also feature a collection of inputs from teammates, friends, rivals and journalists. The trailer features Armstrong, former-teammate George Hincapie and former USA Cycling boss Derek Bouchard-Hall.
Lance Armstrong owns a coffee shop in downtown Austin, Texas called Juan Pelota Cafe with the name of the cafe being a funny reference to his battle with testicular cancer, In the same building, the disgraced cyclist owns and operates a bike shop named Mellow Johnny's, the name again derived from from the Tour term maillot jaune. A line of Nike's clothing was named after him, while Armstrong provided funding to launch a non-profit organization Wonders & Worries. Lance Armstrong served as a technical advisor for American bicycle component manufacturer SRAM Corporation. Armstrong owns a small share in the Trek Bicycle Corporation.
Lance Armstrong has been building a media and event organizing brand over the last two years and his company WEDU hosts two podcasts — The Move and The Forward. The brand puts on bike races in Texas and Colorado, sells merchandise through an online store and offers a $60 subscription service. Subscribers gain access to exclusive content, including a live version of Armstrong's podcasts and the ability to send questions to Armstrong and his guests on the show. The popularity of the podcast has caught the attention of multiple companies, including title sponsor Patron, High Brew Coffee, Helix and Onnit, which are paying for airtime on the show.
Why Lance Armstrong has been treated more harshly than the other cheaters (Business Insider)
After years of denial, Armstrong finally admitted to Oprah Winfrey on live prime-time TV that he doped not only in his first Tour victory but also in the six that followed.
"He was bigger than the sport — he was truly a global icon," Jonathan Vaughters told Business Insider this week when asked about his former friend and teammate, two decades to the month after their lives began to take starkly different paths.
Vaughters was a member of Armstrong's 1999 Tour-winning team before crashing out of the race. Now he's the CEO of the openly anti-doping EF Education First team competing in the Tour.
He just published his first book, an autobiography that covers his years coming up as a bike racer, racing through the sport's rampant doping — including under Armstrong's reign — and his second career as a team boss.
Vaughters admitted his own doping in 2012 in The New York Times. He's more recently been outspoken against cheating and built a top team dedicated to clean racing.
"As far as the book goes, Lance was a character, a friend," Vaughters said. "I don't know — not a close friend. And then a nemesis in a lot of ways, over the years. He's certainly a character in the book, without a doubt, but by no stretch of the imagination is the book about him. He's just someone who's played a very large role in my life, and obviously a very large role in cycling."
Though many know about Armstrong's rise and fall, years later there's one question that sill comes up: If everyone else doped, why was Armstrong singled out and why were his Tour titles taken away?
"A lot of people have questioned whether he was actually that talented," Vaughters said. "Lance was incredibly talented and incredibly strong. He was a very gifted athlete, both physically and psychologically, mentally. As far as the doping goes, did he receive a harsher penalty than everyone else? Of course he did. It was harsher than everyone else.
"Unfortunately, I think the reason it was harsher for him than anyone else is because of his actions after the fact. He never took responsibility for his actions. He never truly took responsibility for it, owned it. I mean, going on Oprah, that's an interesting PR play, but that's not truly owning your actions."
Armstrong was in fact given the opportunity to assist USADA in helping to dismantle the pervasive culture of doping in the sport, but Armstrong rejected the offer, and, according to Vaughters, "turned it into this personal thing and chose not to assist them and then tried to spin it around and make a narrative that it was all against him."
"He has consistently chosen to really bully people throughout his career and use his position of power and his influence to twist the truth," Vaughters said. "He wasn't given a lifetime suspension and no one else because of the doping, because he was a bigger figure. He was given the lifetime suspension because fundamentally he was a bully, and eventually that was a backlash on him. Maybe bully isn't in the WADA regulations, but it's in the rules of life."
"It's not that he wasn't an incredibly gifted athlete with or without doping — he was incredible," Vaughters said. "I don't know if he would win seven Tour de Frances. I don't know about that."
Movie and Documentaries
|Photo: Getty Images
In 2015, the Armstrong biopic The Program, with Ben Foster portraying the fallen cyclist, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Armstrong had little to say about the film, other than criticizing its star for taking performance-enhancing drugs to prepare for the role.
Armstrong was far more receptive to the release of Icarus, a Netflix documentary in which amateur cyclist Bryan Fogel also pumps up on PEDs before uncovering a Russian state-sponsored system created to mask its athletes' use of such drugs. In late 2017, Armstrong tweeted: "After being asked roughly a 1000 times if I’ve seen @IcarusNetflix yet, I finally sat down to check it out. Holy hell. It’s hard to imagine that I could be blown away by much in that realm but I was. Incredible work @bryanfogel!"
It was subsequently announced that on January 6, 2018, the day after Academy Award voters could begin submitting their ballots, Armstrong would co-host a screening and reception for Icarus in New York.
The cyclist returned to the spotlight with the Marina Zenovich-directed documentary Lance, which premiered at the January 2020 Sundance Film Festival before airing on ESPN that May. Along with examining the formative influences that drove him to become such a ruthless competitor, the doc showcased Armstrong's attempts to adapt to public life in the years after he had fallen from his pedestal as one of the world's most admired athletes.
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