I think maybe a lot of people from outside the sport of cycling have seen Armstrong as actually being bigger than the sport.
I also fear that people stereotype Armstrong as Cycling and Cycling as Armstrong. Certainly the US media and vast numbers of people would know little about the sport without his presence
Cycling as a sport has always had issues with doping and they come from it's extreme endurance nature in the past. If you consider the original Tour De France had stages over 500km in length then you start to realise the grueling nature of the early days of the sport. Riders looked for help just to complete a stage.
Armstrong won his 7 Tour's between 1999 and 2005. A whole 8 years ago and cycling has changed dramatically since. Teams have implemented specific anti-doping programmes and attitudes within the sport have changed dramatically.
I've seen a lot of people talk about the people who were runners up to Armstrong having lost out yet in the most cases they were on drugs too and have been caught for also cheating. That era was rife with drugs in the sport and times have changed and huge numbers of athletes from that era have admitted to offences.
As a sport cycling is actually in an upwards curve yet those who see Armstrong in the media probably fail to see other aspects of the sport. It's just a shame that so many people can't see past the Armstrong= Cycling= cheats stereotype.
If David Beckham or Christiano Ronaldo were caught cheating would that be Socer/ Football tainted forever? Or if Peyton Manning did the same would the NFL's reputation being sullied beyond repair? I think not.