For all intents and purposes, Lance Armstrong is a huge jerk. And if I was sitting in a room with friends right now, I would certainly use a word more harsh than ‘jerk’. The cancer-survivor had much of America hypnotized by an incredible story of strength and perseverance. A story about an American using nothing but strong-will, who beat hundreds of Europeans, chalked full of steroids, at their own game.
In a country where few people cared about cancer awareness and almost no one cared about cycling he made us care about both. Between 1999 and 2012 Armstrong’s foundation raised 470 million dollars in the fight against cancer. Between 1999 and 2005 road bikes seemed to procreate on American roads faster than rabbits. Armstrong was undoubtedly a good thing for the country.
But then years after he wore his last yellow-jersey, insurmountable evidence was released proving Armstrong was just as jacked up on PED’s as everyone else in the sport. And, in addition, he constructed an elaborate web of deceit and lies to keep his devastating fiction intact–to keep us hypnotized. Even after a laundry list of evidence was presented and there was no longer question whether he did or did not use PEDs to win his seven Tour De France titles, Lance still adamantly denied this truth, claiming the USADA had conducted a “witch hunt” investigation.
Months later, it appears Lance is ready to admit guilt, repent his sins and move on with his life.
The thing I personally find shocking is how unwilling we are to listen. Days before the apparent confession is taking place, the media, the blogs and the public are already tearing into the apology. This ‘here’s how he’s going to do it and here’s why it’s going to be insincere and here’s why he is such a pathetic human being’ mentality is unprecedented. I mean, shouldn’t we hear what the guy has to say before deem it a load of crap?
And perhaps more interestingly, why are we, collectively, taking this position? Is it because we feel so duped? Lance was doing un-human things on those winding-french roads a decade ago. He was blowing by world-class cyclists, who were doping themselves off the side of the mountain. The man was foaming at the mouth as he crossed the finish line at the top of Alpe d’Huez. In retrospect, he was clearly on the proverbial ‘juice’ and we didn’t believe it–or, didn’t want to believe it.
But again, hindsight is 20/20. Just as we wonder why no one questioned Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds blasting hundreds of home runs in the late 90s or Danny Almonte throwing 70 MPH as a 12 year-old.
Now, by no means am I an Armstrong apologist. I think he was the best cheater in a sport, sadly, infested with cheaters. Which just makes him some sort of super-cheater. I wish he hadn’t cheated, but would his impact been as widespread if he finished an honest 15th place rather than a dishonest first place? I don’t know that there is an answer to these questions but, none the less, it’s a question worth asking.
While it’s hard to imagine Lance being able to say anything that will change his moral standing, lets let the man talk. It will definitely be annoying to watch Oprah underhand meaty questions to Armstrong and it will be even more annoying to watch Lance tear up (is there any question this will happen?). Annoying-ness aside, let’s get to Thursday before we throw Armstrong onto the metaphorical guillotine.