Photo: PAUL BUCK (Getty Images)
Lance Armstrong is probably one of the most notorious athletes in recent history who managed to both inspire and enrage fans with his actions over the years. Namely, he was an award-winning cyclist who basically personified the will for life when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer but still managed to pull through. Among his achievements are the seven Tour de France awards, which are considered the most significant in the cycling world. Unfortunately, it was later discovered that he was using illegal substances and was banned from competing for life. His first wife, Kristin Richard, witnessed both his rise and fall from the inside of a perfect marriage.
When Kristin Richard met Lance Armstrong, he was already diagnosed with cancer and fighting to stay alive. He had done the necessary surgeries and went to chemotherapy regularly. It’s safe to say that he never expected to meet the love of his life under such circumstances. Kristin, who was 25 when she met him, was working in his hometown of Austin in a PR agency. Interestingly, the two became engaged in a matter of months, as their love blossomed quite unexpectedly. Armstrong’s fans were absolutely delighted. Not only did he manage to beat cancer and return to sport as a champion, but he also found a beautiful wife with whom he had three children. Things were looking up for him but, according to Kristin, all was not as it seemed.
The two spent four years in a seemingly happy marriage before opting for a divorce. In an interview, sometime later, Kristin stated that one of the main problems was her utter devotion to others. She confessed to Oprah that, instead of developing herself as an equally worthy partner in marriage, she dedicated herself to pleasing others, mainly her husband. When they got married, she quit her job, sold her car, and moved with him to France to support him as he was putting his career back on the track. She believed this type of unreserved support would strengthen their marriage when, in fact, it contributed to its end. By focusing on the needs of others, Kristin became a different person – not the one Lance fell in love with.
While marriages do crumble from time to time and people have to deal with it in their own way, it’s much more difficult when the entire relationship is public. Not only did Kristin have to deal with the decaying marriage, she also had to deal with the condemning public that always believed it was their right to comment on celebrity lives. Besides that, separating from a man who recovered from a serious illness didn’t really make her popular in the eyes of the fans. It was rather devastating for Kristin, especially when she found out that Armstrong got engaged to the famous singer Sheryl Crow after only two weeks following the divorce.
Despite all the pressure, Kristin Richard managed to pull through with, perhaps surprisingly, the power of faith. She stated, at one point, that it was her being a devoted Christian that helped her survive the publicly painful breakup. In fact, this ordeal only made her faith stronger. The reason why she wanted to share her story with the world afterward is that she felt women weren’t speaking about their lives in marriage sufficiently. If only they communicated more, they would have found a way to help each other stay true to themselves while in a relationship.
Despite all that, a number of people are still angry both at Lance and Kristin, because she wasn’t as innocent as she claimed to be when it came to Lance’s doping. According to USADA (the US Anti-Doping Agency), it was Kristin who personally distributed these illegal pills and testosterone tablets to other cyclists while Lance was considered a ringleader. This is a very gloomy look at a once-beloved athlete and hero to many people fighting cancer worldwide. Lance’s actions are so far-fetching that stripping away his titles was a rather soft punishment.
Have you even heard of Kristin Richard, Armstrong’s first wife before this article? How do you feel about her now?