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It’s All About the Lie: Biker, Bully, Betrayor

After watching the Oprah Winfrey interview (Part One) with a once-hero of mine (boy do I feel like a patsy!) Lance Armstrong, I got the sense that the only reason he's "coming clean" is that he simply has no where else to turn. Richard Gere's line in An Officer & A Gentleman is ringing in my ears: "I ain't got nowhere else to go!!!"

Lance confessed to being a bully. He confessed to betraying the world. But I did not get the sense that he authentically feels remorse. He's sorry enough, though, for getting ratted out by his former aiding and abetting cronies via USADA. Had he not decided to make a comeback in 2009 and 2010, he in all probability would have remained an uncaught doper, and in his words, "would not be sitting here today." You could see him kicking himself for that, 20-20 hindsight being what it is.

Lance was forthcoming, and did not backpedal (sorry for the pun), but unless something more heartfelt and emotional comes from tonight's part two, I get the sense that nothing he can do will ever enable him to attain the kind of trust and inspiration he engendered...to cyclists, and to cancer victims. Add him to the Tiger Woods et al Hall of Disfame.

The title of his book, which I've now thrown in the garbage, should have read: IT'S ALL ABOUT THE LIE: Biker, Bully, Betrayor.

It's certainly NOT about Lance. The larger issue in all of this is the ineffectiveness of the war on drugs. Battling it as a crime is obviously not working. We need an elegant solution, one that makes it impossible for a professional athlete to compete with an unfair advantage.

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117 Responses to "It’s All About the Lie: Biker, Bully, Betrayor"

  • Karen Martin
    Friday, January 18th, 2013 - 8:16 AM

    Yes, this is a tough one to swallow, but I’m sure it’s especially hard for you. The thing that irks me the most (besides the fact that he doesn’t seem contrite at all to me) is that he uses justification (leveling the playing field) as the reason for his actions. Values are values are values. Basically he’s saying that because everyone else was doing it, he “had” to. What would have been far more noble was to rat out the entire industry the moment he had enough data to do so. Truth, goodness, and doing the right thing matters above all else.

  • robert seres
    Friday, January 18th, 2013 - 9:54 AM

    I was (& still am) very disappointed – to say the least. To make matters worse – I don’t believe this is the last we will hear/see of him…once the dust settles, I bet there is a book, he’ll pop-up on apprentice, maybe a movie…and after a while people will forget how big of a liar he was/is. Not me.

  • Annette Franz
    Friday, January 18th, 2013 - 2:38 PM

    Matt,

    I think your blog post echoes the feelings of a lot of people. Thanks for writing it.

    I don’t condone his actions, and I’m still trying to understand why he’s even doing this now. A new book deal? A clean start so he can move on? A deal with the government (or governing body) to give up the names of everyone who ever doped in the sport? etc. But having competed in a sport (bodybuilding) whose foundation is drugs and steroids, as strange as it sounds, I understand some of his responses, i.e., to Karen’s point “because everyone else was doing it, he ‘had’ to. I competed in natural bodybuilding competitions… I chose to remain natural… but it was quite clear that some of the competitors were not natural. In the “non-natural-sanctioned competitions,” without a doubt, drug use was rampant. I saw and heard from those competitors, and it’s an interesting mentality that drives drug usage.

    In bodybuilding, the choice (drug use) is condoned by the judges because they choose the winners (who are clearly poster children for the latest performance enhancement cocktail) and by the governing body (IFBB) because their drug tests are a joke. In baseball, football, cycling, etc., the fans condone this choice because we want winners, superstars, super humans, right?

    The individual is clearly accountable for his actions and choices, but there are a couple of other factors, societal issues, at play here:

    1. The need to win, and the attitude of “winning is everything.” Winning over doing the right thing. Winning at all costs.
    2. Drugs are OK in some sports but not others? Let’s face it. He’s not the only athlete to be extremely successful because he used drugs or some other performance enhancement tool.
    3. Putting superstar athletes on a pedestal, giving them celebrity status, and making them role models for our kids – when honestly, we have no clue who they are or what kind of people they really are.

    Just some random thoughts. I know this is driving a lot of interesting discussions around dinner tables across the country. It’s definitely time for a change.

    Annette :-)

  • Matt
    Friday, January 18th, 2013 - 4:10 PM

    Annette, great thoughts! Very insightful. There are so many sides to sport that we recreational players never see, so your experiences are enlightening. Thank you!

  • Jean Fagan
    Sunday, January 20th, 2013 - 10:41 AM

    Lance was one of my hero’s too ( and the Tour de France an event not to be missed for its sheer gruelling demand on he human body, spirit and mind) and whilst I haven’t watched all of both parts of Oprah and Lance – as I don’t have a desire to waste my time watching an orchestrated spin I would probably have given him some respect if he had chosen to do his “confession” with credibility.
    I’m thinking sincerity, remorse, honesty may have been possible to believe if:
    1. He hadn’t chosen to do a two part Oprah “show”. Really? And this represents remorse and sincerity ? Wrong message before he even said a word
    2. On top of all the bald faced lies he told and extremes he went to such as suing, etc – there was not once that I felt his credibility had changed. He was manipulating the audience again.

    I agree that the evidence is there, that had he attempted to compete without doping he would just have been another rider coming in at number 16 or behind whatever the number of dopers amounted to in the particular race. But a simple mea culpa in front of the press without questions and then dignified exit to contemplate, show a change in behaviour and silence for a while might have just won some sympathy from me.

    Enjoyed the piece in the NYTimes by the way.

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