Special Report: Lance Armstrong Confesses, Finally

Lance Armstrong finally got around to confessing that he engaged in illegal doping. He admitted that he would not have won the Tour de France a record seven times if he had not doped. He acknowledged that he has been a bully. He demonstrated to the world that he is a liar.

Bent Bike Wheel by tanvach via FlickrArmstrong’s confession in his interview with Oprah Winfrey did not surprise everyone. However, many people did stand-by Armstrong up until the interview. Some of those folks ended up feeling foolish. 

I received an email from one of my readers yesterday. Months ago, the reader had responded to one of my earlier posts about Armstrong. The reader had expressed support for the cyclist and said he should not resign from the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LIVESTRONG) board. This reader’s view was shared by 49 percent of those who responded to my survey.

In yesterday’s email message, the reader apologized to me for having been “incredibly naïve.” I want this reader, and everyone who was duped by this doper for so long, to know that you are not the one who has anything to apologize for. While I appreciate the gesture, I can find no fault in this reader’s desire to see good in a fellow human being. If Armstrong has made anyone more jaded and less trusting as a result of his lies, it’s just another of the many offenses he’s committed.

Unfortunately, it will take us more time to understand the complete fallout from Armstrong’s actions. Will his past connection to LIVESTRONG hurt the nonprofit moving forward? Will LIVESTRONG’s slow reaction time as events unfolded be held against the organization? Now that the world  knows that Armstrong is a liar, will that erode the public’s trust in the charity he created?

Armstrong hurt cycling by cheating, LIVESTRONG by not stepping aside sooner, the public by eroding the trust we have in others. He also hurt his teammates, his sport, his family, and his friends. The interview with Oprah does not change any of that.

When Oprah asked if he had cheated, Armstrong responded defensively by saying that he had looked up the word “cheat” in the dictionary. He said the definition is “gaining an advantage on a rival or foe.” He said that, by that definition, he was not cheating because so many other top cyclists were also doping. He said that he was simply leveling the playing field.

Well, Armstrong was still breaking the rules of his sport. In addition, he may have broken the law in the process.

Just because others were also doing wrong doesn’t make Armstrong’s action right. When I was a child, my parents told me:

Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

What Armstrong did was wrong. His feeble attempt to justify his misdeeds is offensive. Being ethical is not always easy. But, it is always the right thing to do.

Interestingly, throughout the interview, Oprah gave Armstrong a number of opportunities to apologize to the public, He never did. Well, at least we finally know who Lance Armstrong really is.

If you haven’t already read my previous posts about Armstrong, you can find them here:

That’s what Michael says… What do you say?


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4 Comments to “Special Report: Lance Armstrong Confesses, Finally”

  1. I was one of those naive folks from before as well, and I’m still not sure how this all makes me feel. On the one hand, I still admire the guy for winning in a cheat-filled sport 7 times. I respect him for the foundation he started and the work he has done. I applaud him for battling and beating back cancer. But I AM upset he fought so hard against the allegations, only to have those allegations be 100% true.

    I think what I’m feeling the most is that I hope the world will forgive him eventually. He’s not the worst person on the planet, as so many people would make him out to be, and he was hiding no more than the rest of us hide on a daily basis. If he broke any laws he’ll need to pay, and then I hope we can move on. If we can still celebrate (and honor the records of) Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa, I hope the world will eventually forgive Lance as well.

    • SilentFury, thank you for sharing your thoughts. While I understand your conflicted feelings, I don’t agree with everything you’ve stated. For example, you wrote, “…he was hiding no more than the rest of us hide on a daily basis.” I must disagree with you on that one. For the sake of our world, I hope that I’m the one who is right on this. Most people do not use illegal substances. Most people do not lie on a regular basis and, as a result, harm others. Most people do not engage in bullying. Most people do not sue others when they know their case is false. Most people do not cheat. Most people do not imperil a charity they support. So, I must conclude that Armstrong had far, far more to “hide on a daily basis” than most of the rest of us. Are we saints? No. But, most of behave much better than Armstrong has.

      You also wrote, “If we can still celebrate (and honor the records of) Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa, I hope the world will eventually forgive Lance as well.” First, I do not think we should celebrate the three controversial former baseball players you mentioned. Second, at least for the moment, the Baseball Hall of Fame agrees with me. On January 9 2013, the Hall of Fame denied both Bonds and Sosa entry during their first year of eligibility. McGuire has been denied entry seven times, so far. I applaud the integrity exhibited by Cooperstown.

      Finally, I want to address the issue of forgiveness. In my faith tradition — I’m Jewish — there are a number of steps one must take in order to receive forgiveness:

      1. Recognize the wrong behavior.
      2. Discontinue the wrong actions.
      3. Verbally confess. This must be complete and truthful.
      4. Regret the bad behavior. To do this, one must thoroughly understand how one’s actions have hurt others and oneself.
      5. Choose to never repeat the bad behavior.
      6. Make restitution or amends to those who have been hurt.
      7. Seek reconciliation and forgiveness.

      I’m not suggesting that the Jewish pathway to forgiveness is the only path. But, it is certainly a pretty good one. Unfortunately, based on this prescription, Lance Armstrong has much work remaining before he can rightfully earn forgiveness.

      • Ok, perhaps I exaggerated when I said Lance hides no more than the rest of us. I guess I meant to say that many of us have moments from our past we’re not proud of, and we don’t want everyone else to know those things. Or maybe that’s just me. Also, I wasn’t trying to say I personally celebrate those players, I’m more concerned that their records stand. I’m hopeful the Hall will never let them in, but as long as those records stand, we’re still honoring and accepting their performance.

        I just wanted to clarify my points a little bit, I’m not disagreeing with you at all, I just think I came off completely wrong in my earlier post!

        Keep up the great work.

      • SilentFury, thanks for the clarification. I think we’re pretty much on the same page. I, too, have had conflicted feelings about Armstrong. You’ll notice that my earliest post about him was noncommital. Regarding baseball, I was a huge Pete Rose fan in my younger days. My feelings today are far more complex. Not long ago, I was in Las Vegas where Rose was signing autographs. There was no line. I stopped. Part of me wanted to meet him and get his autograph. Part of me couldn’t forgive him. I finally just walked away.

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