Let’s open a can of worms, shall we? Lance Armstrong is going to be racing here in my town this coming Sunday in the Half Full triathlon. For those of you who don’t know, the Half Full is a Rev3 event in the neighborhood of a 70.3 distance (more on that in a minute) that supports the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
Now, we all know that Lance has been banned from any event governed by the USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency). As a result of this, he was recently refused entry into the Chicago Marathon, among other events. The Half Full was formerly a USAT (U.S.A. Triathlon) sanctioned event, an organization that the USADA oversees. But in order to have Lance participate in Half Full, the Ulman Fund dropped the USAT sanctioning and partnered with another agency for race insurance.
As you can imagine, both the move to bring Lance to the event, and to “break up” with USAT for the event had a few athletes’ noses out of joint. But here’s the thing: the mission of the Half Full triathlon has and always will be to raise funds for young adults with cancer. Period. That’s the reason behind the 70-mile distance, not a 70.3–70 stands for the 70,000 young adults affected by cancer each year. Yes, Ulman puts on a spectacular race event for those seeking it. But if the organization wanted to find a way to up the fundraising quotient, it found it in Lance Armstrong. The day after announcing he would participate, registration took a 200-person jump. A couple of athletes pulled out, but at the end of the day, the Ulman Fund, and those it serves, win.
As someone who lives in the midst of the Ulman Fund community–its presence is huge here–I applaud the move to bring Lance to town. Cancer sucks, maybe even more so when it affects someone in the prime of his/her life, who may or may not have insurance, and who might not have a good support system. The Ulman Fund fills in those gaps, and if having Lance race here helps that many more young adults, then by all means, let him participate.
What are your thoughts? Should Lance have a place in a race when it benefits an organization like Ulman Fund?