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Friday, January 18, 2013

Lance Armstrong

Surely Lance Armstrong will be grist for the bloggers' mill for...well, until we forget all about him and his misdeeds, which will take moist Americans about 46 seconds. So by the time you read this, he'll be old news.

After years of denials, and posturing to challenge anyone who questioned his veracity, Mr. Armstrong broke down and admitted that he used performance-enhancing drugs to help him build an almost supernatural winning career as a bicycle racer. Almost supernatural? Well, by the strict definition of the word - above natural - it was. Not quite sportsmanlike, though. Simply not cricket.

Mr. Armstrong lied to the sport's regulatory bodies, to the press, and to his fans. He broke faith with those who placed him on a pedestal, as a cancer survivor who came back from metastatic testicular cancer to become a champion. He's been stripped of his titles, lost his endorsements, lost the leadership of his charitable foundation, and will likely be sued for appearance fees paid to him by cycle race organizers, as well as almost everyone else who sees a chance to get some money out of it.

The good he did, the donations and support he gave to cancer-care groups and individual cancer patients, will be utterly forgotten. Memories will be blackened, handshakes and hugs recalled with a tinge of shame.

All richly deserved. But before we pillory him in a wave of mixed revulsion, disdain, and self-righteous glee, we should consider one small thing.

We're looking in a mirror.

Mr. Armstrong lied. So have I. So, I'll bet, have you. He violated the trust of those who took him at his word. I have; I'll warrant that anyone who's been married for more than fifteen minutes has done that. He cheated for financial gain. I don't think I've done that...but when I was a kid I took more candy than was allowed me at a school party, so I guess that counts.

The difference is that my misdeeds affected relatively few people, and that I never would have cheated on the scale Mr. Armstrong exercised. But that's really a cheap argument, because I didn't have the opportunity. Indeed, I have committed similar offenses, and by induction, one may assume that I would have done exactly the same with greater opportunity - and more to gain.

Yes, the punishments are deserved. But so is forgiveness, and, in our hearts, wiping the slate clean.

Because 2000 years ago, that's what was done for us.

(Just out of interest, a race organizer in SOuth Australia is considering suing Mr. Armstrong for millions in appearance fees paid to have him show up for their races...thus increasing their credibility among paying fans and sponsors. They already reaped the rewards of his 'name'; and now would like to be reimbursed for the fact that the name was bogus, after collecting the receipts. There is no little incongruity there.)


  1. I know that what he did was wrong, and I must say that I was pretty gleeful when Alberto Contador was stripped of his last TDF win for basically the same thing. But I don't really care about any of that, I will always remember the good that was done with his Livestrong foundation because of him.

    1. You're a good man, for saying that. Most would simply cheer the giant's fall.

      Thank you for being what and who you are!