Lance Armstrong is a professional cyclist and seven-time Tour de France winner. He's the only cyclist to win the Tour de France seven times. As a result of his cancer diagnosis in 1996, Armstrong formed the Lance Armstrong Foundation to support people affected by cancer and raise awareness.
Lance's sporting career began in Plano, Texas, where his mother Linda supported his competitive urges from the beginning. He displayed a gift early on when he won the Iron Kids Triathlon at 13 and became a professional when he was only 16 years old. At the near-cost of his high school diploma, he trained with the U.S. Olympic cycling developmental team in Colorado Springs, Colorado, during his senior year. That sealed his destiny and Lance embarked on a career as a bike racer.
By 1995, Armstrong had won his first Tour de Pont. He won again in 1996, setting several records and qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team. In October 1996, he was diagnosed with stage three nonseminomatous testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in men from 15 to 35. When found early, it has a cure rate of 90 percent. Armstrong, being healthy, ignored the signs, and by the time it was diagnosed, the cancer had spread to his lungs, abdomen, lymph nodes and later his brain. He opted for a dangerous chemotherapy treatment and surgical removal of one of his testicles and the tumors in his brain.
Armstrong is revered, feared, resented and admired. He is credited for pushing road cycling into mainstream U.S. culture, spurring a spike in equipment sales, participation and spectator interest that is colloquially referred to as "the Lance effect."
Armstrong, who won the Tour de France a record seven times, has always emphatically denied all accusations that he used illegal performance-enhancing drugs. But his first Tour de France win in 1999 followed the event’s largest doping scandal and ever since he has fought suspicions that his Tour titles were tainted by drug use. But he has never tested positive for any illegal substance. (At the 1999 Tour, he failed a test for a corticosteroid but produced a doctor’s note indicating that the drug had been used for therapeutic reasons.)
For decades, cycling has been riddled with doping scandals, and there have long been rumors about Armstrong, which he has always denied. What makes the current inquiry more serious is that the federal government, not a cycling authority, is looking into possible criminal behavior. When contacted by Fast Company, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles would not confirm the charges being considered, but The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, reported that investigators are exploring possible drug distribution, fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering.
While its $50.4 million in annual revenue is less than what the 97-year-old American Cancer Society raises in a month, Livestrong has been a catalyst for better cancer care and education across the globe. "It's a force to be reckoned with," says Leslie Lenkowsky, a professor at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy. Livestrong's help line, guidebooks, and website helped more than 400,000 people last year. Its social-media efforts reach about 3 million supporters. It has pioneered programs here and abroad for survivors; worked to unify the fractured cancer community; and instigated a worldwide crusade, which includes the United Nations and the Clinton Global Initiative, to make the world's No. 1 killer a health-care priority.
His oversized heart can beat over 200 times a minute and thus pump an extraordinarily large volume of blood and oxygen to his legs. His VO2 max—the maximum amount of oxygen his lungs can take in, an important measurement for an endurance athlete—is extremely high.
Early in his career Armstrong showed only average muscle efficiency—the percentage of chemical energy that the muscles are able to harness to produce power. Higher muscle efficiency means greater production of power.
From 1992 to 1999, the year of his first Tour de France win, Armstrong was able to increase his muscle efficiency by 8 percent through hard and dedicated training. Coyle says Armstrong is the only human who has been shown to change his muscle efficiency.
When people reach exhaustion, their muscles build up acid, which causes the muscles to stop contracting. But Armstrong's muscles produce about half as much acid as the average person's muscles do when they get fatigued. This allows him to recover much faster than other people.
With more slow-twitch muscle fibers, and increased muscle power, Armstrong is able to move his legs faster. As a result, his pedaling rate has gone up from 85 revolutions per minute to 105.
Armstrong has three older children with ex-wife Kristin. All of Lance and Kristin's children were conceived through artificial insemination using sperm he had banked before undergoing treatment for testicular cancer in 1996. Last year, Lance -- who had returned to racing after a three-year retirement -- was thrilled when he learned that girlfriend Anna was pregnant (the child was conceived naturally).Before the surprise pregnancy, it was believed that Armstrong could no longer father children due to the aggressive chemotherapy he had undergone years earlier for testicular cancer.
Federal prosecutors have dropped cyclist Lance Armstrong's doping investigation without filing criminal charges, according to the L.A. Times. The case was dropped after Armstrong's attorney said government sources leaked confidential information from the case "with the transparent agenda of publicly smearing Armstrong and aggrandizing the government's investigation."