Lance Armstrong's PR Strategy: 'Santa Claus in a Peleton'

Lance Armstrong completed his final Tour de France this weekend to an especially warm reception from the French spectators who have not always been kind to the cycling star, especially after multiple doping rumors surfaced throughout the years. Nevertheless, as Fanhouse explains, Armstrong now heads back to an America on a rampage to investigate those same rumors.

In a country where doping scandals are old hat, Armstrong is a unique case. As Fanhouse points out, his battle with cancer, triumphant return to cycling, and humanitarian work make him even more saintly than other athletes who have faced these allegations ("Santa Claus in a peloton" is the writer's exact phrase). Writer Jay Mariotti predicts how Armstrong will use that image to navigate the PR surrounding the investigation:

A lot of Americans -- myself included -- would like to think Armstrong is innocent. We need to believe in fairy tales, and his would be one for eternity, the wonderful story that held up when so many of his dirty contemporaries were going down. "I know him to be an athlete that comes along once every couple of generations," said Tim Herman, Armstrong's attorney, who is quite a busy fellow these days. "He is extremely focused. He's gifted physically in ways that are very unique, and he is disciplined and dedicated. He's the hardest-working athlete I've ever been around. But he's also extremely devoted and committed to his cancer work.''

And he laments that Armstrong's most recent return to cycling may have tarnished a legendary career:

Needless to say, Armstrong should have stayed retired five years ago, when he won his seventh Tour title and reached his zenith as an athlete and humanitarian. Maybe being out of sight would have kept him out of the minds of Landis and LeMond ... and Novitzky. He was impressive last year in making a run at Contador, but he was a no-show this month in Contador's repeat, finishing 23rd after three weeks of crashes, flat tires and doping stories. Needless to say, this is not the way we want to see a legend leave his sport.

If this were a fairy tale, it would deserve a sunset. But the reality of Lance Armstrong's predicament, I'm afraid, leaves him pedaling straight into darkness.

Read the full story at Fanhouse.