Armstrong's fall was swift and landing hard

Armstrong was a hero to many, and his cheating won't be forgiven until he comes clean.

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Cycling champion Lance Armstrong isn't the first professional athlete to be accused of wrongdoing. In fact, his sins -- taking banned substances to get an edge on the competition -- would seem far less egregious than what some high profile athletes have done.

Yet, Armstrong was quickly shunned by the companies he was hired by to endorse their products. Nike was the first corporation to sever ties with Armstrong. Then at least five other companies let him go.

And the situation seems to be growing worse for Armstrong.

Mae Anderson, Associated Press marketing reporter, wrote Armstrong's swift rebuke highlights "the tricky relationship that evolves when marketers sign multimillion-dollar deals for celebrities and athletes to endorse their products. Everything a celebrity endorser says and does could negatively impact the company he or she represents. And when something goes wrong, companies act as the judge and jury when deciding whether to continue those deals."

Sources she talked to went on to say that the more intimate relationship, the more emotional the reaction -- much like breaking up a marriage.

When Tigers Woods was caught cheating on his wife and Michael Vick went to prison for illegal dogfighting, Nike distanced itself from the athletes but eventually let them back into the Nike stable of celebrity endorsers. Woods apologized to the public for his bad behavior and so did Vick, who went even further by publicly speaking out against the horrors of dog fighting.

Armstrong has yet to admit he did wrong or apologize for doing it despite overwhelming evidence he did use performance enhancing drugs. In addition, it is clear he pressured other cyclists to cheat.

Armstrong did more than break rules, he tainted his sport. The scorn he faces is much like baseball stars such as Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire have endured for cheating their way to home run records. Steriod users are not likely to be voted into the baseball Hall of Fame anytime soon.

Armstrong is perhaps more reviled. Not only did Armstrong sully his sport, but he lied about it and lied about it -- and lied about it.

He needs to take responsibility and try to make amends. So many people looked up to him and used him as inspiration in their own lives only to find that he had no honor. He was not only seen as a great athlete, but an athlete who beat cancer and then raised millions of dollars to fight the disease.

People make mistakes -- and this is a big one. Forgiveness will take awhile, but the healing will never start until Armstrong fesses up.

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