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The list of Armstrong’s victims goes on, people whose lives and reputations can’t be repaired by his quest for absolution on Oprah’s couch. An entire sport became about one man and so, too, does his attempt at redemption. The others, as always, are shoved to the shadows.

Evidence finally overwhelmed the myth. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s 1,000-plus page report last October detailed Armstrong’s indiscretions and lack of cooperation that added up to a lifetime ban.

Lance Armstrong was given the same opportunity to come forward and be part of the solution,” the USADA report read. “He rejected it.”

Armstrong’s seven Tour titles are gone. Now he’s the one targeted by lawsuits.

And my thoughts return to the afternoon in Paris. “The Star Spangled Banner” drifted through the Place de Concorde as Armstrong held his right hand over his heart. A long roar followed from thousands of believers nearby, like an ocean tide rolling in.

“Merci, Lance!” the public address announcer bellowed.

A month later, the respected French sports daily L’Equipe published “The Armstrong Lie.” Four pages alleged Armstrong’s use of the performance-enhancing drug EPO during his first Tour victory.

I brushed off the story.

I wanted the myth to be real. I wanted to be swept away.