Lance Armstrong, American Villain
Armstrong couldn’t deny all the lawsuits he had filed and all the times he’d accused people of lying. So he attributed these intimidation tactics to fear, a rough childhood, and his cancer. He had vilified witnesses who told the truth because he saw them “as a friend turning on you.” He had attacked any threat because when he was a kid, his family “felt like we had our backs against the wall.” And, tragically, “my diagnosis … turned me into a person” who was resolved to “win at all costs,” since cancer compels you to “do anything I have to do to survive. … And I took that attitude, that ruthless and relentless and win-at-all costs attitude, and I took it right into cycling.”
That seems to be the game plan Armstrong brought to this interview. Downplay your power over others. Deny issuing explicit orders to dope. Convert any such story into a matter of setting a poor example. Take responsibility for yourself, but suggest that others—those who claim you pressured them—must do the same. Recast your threats, retributions, and demands for silence as products of a hard life. Reduce your sins of coercion to a sin of deceit. When Winfrey asked Armstrong “what made you a bully,” he answered: “Just trying to perpetuate the story and hide the truth.”
That’s Armstrong’s message: Everything he did, no matter how domineering, menacing, or manipulative, was a desperate effort to protect a single lie. “I tried to control the narrative,” he says. And he’s still trying to control the narrative. Which is a good reason not to believe it.
Armstrong seemed to be exposing himself the most when he confessed to bullying Emma O’Reilly, the former massage therapist who tried to expose Armstrong’s doping in 2003. “We ran over her, we bullied her,” he said. But then when Oprah asked if he’d sued O’Reilly, he couldn’t remember even the basic details—who he’d sued, for example. His admissions stopped exactly at the point when it turned from a character trait to real adult, legal action, which caused actual measurable harm in another person’s life. Yes, sure, we agree with Lance Armstrong he was a bully. As team leader and megastar cyclist, he had far more power than the people around him, and he used it to make their lives miserable when they did things he didn’t like, especially exposing the cheating and lying that allowed him to build his own myth and stay on top. But bullying hardly covers it. More like, “he assaulted people with intent to absolutely destroy,” as a Twitter user named Brian G. Fay wrote to me last night.
I went online and had a look at the various opinions about Lance Armstrong. To my surprise, my first searches pulled comments on his behalf. And then worse, there were the “so-what” comments. “Everybody does it.” “The sport of cycling is corrupt.”
Yes, cycling is corrupt. If there is any one individual who made it impossible to compete without cheating, it’s Lance Armstrong.
I don’t think, people are getting the picture here of a long term criminal conspiracy to subvert a sport. Yet, that is exactly what was going here. Armstrong is the Bernie Madoff of cycling. He didn’t just cheat, he used such a wide variety of banned substances, the only way he could’ve broken the rules further was by riding a motorcycle, or putting in a double.
He didn’t just steal money. He stole our ideal of what a sports figure should be. He cheapened heroism, and made a world of high athleticism, cheap and tawdry.
His victims include those who deserved those medals, those endorsements, the keys to the city and the honorary degree. We’ll never know their names or respect their accomplishments because he stole their glory.
He’s a villain, and he deserves to be treated like one.
From around the web –
From the web site, Poems and Sundry Writings by Rebekka Roderick:
Just go away and shut up already. You have done more than enough damage. Just fuck off. Everybody is tired of your BS. Just go. We know you don’t mean what you say. We know you’re just a liar who kept lying right up until the entire house of cards was pulled down, torn up and set on fire. I know this because I was a similar person the last few years, lying to and cheating on and not appreciating the man that loved me unconditionally. I was not a tad bit remorseful, contrite or altruistic about it at all until the ultimate realization of all the pain I had caused him and the awareness that I had let go of somebody that I was important to, a once in a lifetime thing, hit me in the face.
From the web site, Live STRONG Blog:
We expect Lance to be completely truthful and forthcoming in his interview and with all of us in the cancer community. We expect we will have more to say at that time. Regardless, we are charting a strong, independent course forward that is focused on helping people overcome financial, emotional and physical challenges related to cancer. Inspired by the people with cancer whom we serve, we feel confident and optimistic about the Foundation’s future and welcome an end to speculation.”
From the web site, Growing Dogwood:
I never bought the fact that he was not using. Call me a skeptic if you must, but it never made sense that that these athletes could do what they did and then turn around and do more the next day – for three weeks. Sorry, I think they’re all using. With that said, what’s the problem? How different is the use of PED’s from say the actress that has plastic surgery to enhance her performance? I would never endorse or do either, but I guess I just don’t want success that badly. At the same time I am not in any position to judge anyone’s decision on what they do.
As far as I care what he did is still a great accomplishment. Like I said, everyone was cheating and he was clearly the best cheater. So hats off to Mr Armstrong on those seven yellow jerseys.
From the web site, [un]-conscious stream- [ing]:
Meaning that to look at the whole picture of a person is to see the truth about their material reality. Peter used the idea that behind closed doors, Hitler may well have been a ‘really nice guy’, when he was playing the piano and people were drinking tea and having dinner with the polite house painter. But the material reality of Hitler – the totality of his existence, the big, whole picture was that he sanctioned and ordered the ethnic and elitist ‘cleansing’ of Germany and the killing of over six million Jews.
Which led me to the thought that, if Lance does admit to the doping allegations, then no matter who interviews him, we have already seen the ‘real Armstrong’. The ‘real Armstrong’ is in the totality of his material reality, not in the soft, contrite and repentant man that we might see on a tv screen attempting to win back the favour of the public.
If the allegations are true, the ‘real Armstrong’ has already revealed his hand and shown his true colours: someone who is ruthless, prepared to systematically cheat his way to the top of a sport, push others out, lie repeatedly about it, bully his way through to rule the peloton and bully a number of journalists on the way as he churned out untruth after obfuscated distraction over and over again (I’ve heard many of the interviews over the years). Someone who has to be in control and on top and will stop at nothing to get there.
And finally, from the web site, Getting Back in Shape:
That pretty much sums up my feelings towards this whole confession. He sued dozens and dozens of people that said he was doping. Test after test proved without a doubt he was doping all those years. Eventually once the USADA took all his Tour De France wins away, banned him from the sport for life, and all his sponsors dropped him, did he finally admit his guilt. Really, what choice did he have? That is as rock bottom as one can get. Some might commit suicide, others might just live in a cave the rest of their life. He obviously is the type that wants to move on, and this was the only thing that could be done. If not, he would be treated horribly anytime he was seen in public, I’m sure of that. Disgraced is a good word I would use. But on the flip side, he did play a part in raising millions and millions for cancer research. And if so many other people are doping just like he was, it still shows his performance was superior to theirs. Coming back from being diagnosed and treated for cancer, that is very impressive.