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Letter to the editor: Don't be a cheater like Lance Armstrong

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 12:01 am

I am one of those athletes you never heard of because I am no Lance Armstrong.

In 1980 I won the Indiana State Olympic weightlifting championships in the 181-pound class with a Snatch of 250 and a C&J of 305. I had high hopes of going to the Olympics in 1984.

In 1981 during a stroll across the Purdue campus with a good bodybuilder friend, he asked me how the lifting was going. I told him that I was lifting about 260/330 now. He asked how long had I been on steroids. I responded that I had never touched steroids.

Slightly excited, he told me that he would be glad to give me the name of a disreputable doctor who, for $80 of blood tests, would give me a prescription for all the steroids I would need. My friend told me that in a year or two, I would be lifting about 350/450. I told him I would think about it. It subsequently dawned on me that I would never make the Olympics without drugs. I never competed again.

I chose not to use steroids because good parenting taught me that cheating is wrong.

If you are a teenager or parent of a teenager considering steroids, it is essential to understand the damage to body and soul that results. One of my heroes, Rick Holbrook, died prematurely at 60. 1972 Mr. America Steve Michalik had multiple near-death experiences because of steroid abuse. Steve Stanko was killed by steroids. Some steroid abusers suffer the loss of about half of their cardio capacity. Armstrong is an example of the moral damage: now exposed as a greedy, sniveling liar and never really a good cyclist. The drug use corrupted him.

Steroid abuse is inherently, metaphysically corrupt and immoral because the gains that may result do not come from the hard work of the user. Steroids corrupt the user because the user lives in denial of where the gains came from. If you claim that steroid use is victimless, tell that to the multiple people now suing Armstrong. Tell that to Stanko’s wife and kids. Tell that to the many young people who admired Armstrong and now know he is a cheater.

It turned out that with an 800-pound total I would have won as many as 10 consecutive national championships. I could have been the Lance Armstrong of Olympic weightlifting. But I am just an average Rufus Q. Hoosier who chose the American way — do the right thing — instead of cheating. And 32 years later I have no damage to my body and no damage to my soul — and I am no Lance Armstrong.

Hank Achor