Viewpoint: Lance Armstrong Will Be Back

He may be hated, but he should never be underestimated

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NATHALIE MAGNIEZ / AFP / Getty Images

Lance Armstrong for a training session during the second of the two rest days of the 2010 Tour de France cycling race in Pau, France, July 21, 2010.

Anyone expecting a tearful Lance Armstrong to gaze into the camera and beg forgiveness for a lifetime of deceit, after having given up all of the names and details of the how and why of his successes, was certain to have been disappointed by the Oprah interviews. It was classic Lance: stubbornly proud, controlling and calculating. But given who he is, a man who has spent a lifetime constructing an impenetrable protective shell around him, it represented a massive effort on his part and was a pretty good first step towards rehabilitating his public and personal lives both now lying in tatters.

(MORE: How Lance Armstrong Came Clean to Oprah)

Lance lost. He lost the game that USADA finally won after a protracted and bloody battle, and, as Lance said in the interview, being deeply afraid of losing has always been his driving force. This loss represents a complete change, something he has never experienced in a lifetime of winning almost every fight both big and small. He now has to come to terms with what losing, and losing big, means, and accept the fear that has landed on his doorstep. That is not going to happen overnight and certainly not in one session with Oprah.

(MORE: Lance Armstrong’s Confession and the Psychology of Elite Athletes)

The interview provided a fascinating insight into the mind of a professional athlete, one who had achieved the ultimate goal of turning himself into a brand. Lance’s parsing of the definition of cheating was a look into the secret life of a pro and how they can rationalize using every possible legal and illegal advantage to perform at the levels the public and sponsors expect and demand. As he swung back and forth from saying  “I” and “we”, was it the man or the brand speaking? “To be honest, Oprah, we sued so many people I don’t even [know]. I’m sure we did.” “Emma O’Reilly [Armstrong's former employee who he called an "alcoholic prostitute" after she blew the whistle on his doping] is one of these people I have to apologize to. We ran over her, we bullied her.”

He held almost everything back that could affect anyone connected to “we”, and anything of use to USADA and the varied legal actions lining up against him. Dr. Ferrari, the sponsors, money and organization behind him, the possible influence of the UCI and the Tour de France on his ability to make a mockery of the doping controls for years, his hospital bed confession, all of that, the meat everyone wanted, is still unrevealed. And will probably remain so unless he can successfully negotiate to get his life as an athlete back.

(MORE: Viewpoint: Why America Won’t Forgive Lance Armstrong (For Now))

Yet, he gave a lot. He did admit to the general public that he had doped for the seven consecutive Tour victories. He admitted the backdating by his USPS team of the medical certificate that squashed the positive test that loomed over his first Tour win. That positive test would have derailed his entire mythical rise from the dead and destroyed the Tour de France forever. Lance seemed genuinely affected by the loss of Livestrong, the entity he had envisioned devoting the rest of his life to.

Lance needs a new “we” in his life. He needs to continue down the path he’s just begun, and he needs to begin making honest amends. It will take time and it will be difficult, but like many fallen famous figures, he’ll be back. He may be hated, but he should never be underestimated.

31 comments
JohnDavidDeatherage
JohnDavidDeatherage

This is nothing but a PR piece written and printed for the benefit of Lance Armstrong.  Shame on Time for selling their credibility. A single word describes this article; "shill".

MickeyMcMook
MickeyMcMook

cyclejonny, I wonder what the sense is of your personal attacks on John Eustice? He was never part of "Armstrong's Army" but someone who has had an independent and unique perspective on the Lance Armstrong debacle. USADA's procedures DID lack due process, and there is still no proof af any doping positive by Armstrong except his admissions and riders who were forced to testify against him in a plea-bargain agreement with USADA. 

enrique.cubillo, what does John Eustice's commentary have to do with your junior team? Yes John was a professional rider and can offer a unique insight about the motivations as to what is behind Lance Armstrong's doping. 

cyclejonny
cyclejonny

Why does John Eustice even have a public platform with Time?  He was part of Armstrong's Army who repeated the phrases "witch hunt", "he passed 500 tests", "lack of due process", blah blah blah blah.  John Eustice is highly regarded in the cycling community as an aloof, out of touch, bonehead.  Why would Time seek his input for an article?  As Charles Barkely would say, "This guy's a knucklehead."

etanretla
etanretla

use of performance enhancing drugs does not guarantee anyone a gold medal on any sport...every athlete still has to do their fair share of rigourous training, discipline, and commitment...if other cyclists participating in the tour de france use ped's, doesnt that just even out the playing field in a sense?..or on the flipside, does that mean that armstrong's 'drugs' were 'better'?

i certainly am not promoting ped's or illegal drug use for that matter, but until we develop a drug that will produce a super human ala captain america, i say athletes should be able to dope all they want and be prepared to face the consequences - whether their health suffers down the road or if they collapse at the finish line.

the main issue for me here is not the that armstrong took ped's, but the fact that these anti-drug governing bodies are either incompetent with their testing or are run by corrupt bureaucrats (or both).

enrique.cubillo
enrique.cubillo

Armstrong never one time, not once, did he explain in simple terms to the public the most important reason bike racing should exist. Namely that by learning to race a bicycle one is provided with the most complete understanding on how to use a bicycle effectively to carry loads and more importantly to carry loads over rolling hills. In other words, it is all about the BIKE, and racing bicycles is not about the US developing one man, one excellent doper, it is about using the bike as a healing force for the society and it's people. We who have raced know all to well how life affirming and sensationally powerful it is to have this steeped knowledge in the mechanical use of a bike. Sadly not one time did Armstrong ever look into a cameras lens and encourage a generation to begin and explain to their parents the entry into a mysterious and challenging activity that can help heal a planet with TRANSPORT SPORTS. His lies and deceit and enormously destructive  and offensive personal behavior aside, he is guilty of murdering the noble bicycle in the plain sight of day. It is about the the bike, it will always be about the bike and bike racing is not firstly about championships, it is about transport sport education first and champions second.

Turn off the screen and become your own epic. I never once watchted te TDF in summer. I was out racing my bike. Never worship a parson for athlertic prowess when you have your own to fulfill at your own level.

Regarding Mr. Eustice. I have lived in the same town as he for near 15 years now and while I ran a junior squad that could have grown form 10 into 100 he sat idly by and did noting to help promote this goal. Why? Because he is a "bike racer." Lance became a "bike racer." Becoming a "bike racer" is the most selfish of all pursuits in sport. To be human and race a bike is so different than becoming a "bike racer." As we see Contador, Indurain, Merckx, they all defended Armstrong until the night before his confession, quite literally. Now why would we ever expect Mr. Eustice to do anything other than to begin to lay the media ground swell of helping Armstrong try and rebuild himself? As they say at USA Cycling, or at least as they told me while I was at an expert coaching clinic, " hey hey, you are quite a junior development zealot. Easy, don't you see, cycle racing is not for everyone." Of course what they meant was, cycle racing is only for those that are blindly ruthless enough on themselves and others to  drive a bike towards a winning finish line at absolutely any cost. That cost might include never for a second helping a young 13 year old at a race because you are to self absorbed in your own race to the line, all the way to deceiving an entire planet and destroying the good name of a dozen people along the way. 

Armstrong explained very well his not having created "the culture". It is this culture which few in this world, sadly, understand. This culture is sick. This culture holds the education of bicycle racing in it's hands unfortunately. In this country it is USA Cycling that perpetuates this win at all costs and maintains even in it's mission the sole reason for bike racing as they see it. To win. As they say in their mission:

The mission of USA Cycling is to achieve sustained success in international cycling competition and grow competitive cycling in America.

 So they sit in Colorado Springs and concentrate exclusively on polishing up 100 pros that can win at all costs. They supremely created  exhibit A: Mr. Armstrong  and company, his top ten US cohorts are all dopers. USA Cycling could  have as a vision and mission to create national high school bike racing. Simply aim as a goal to teach millions how to race a bike same as football is taught. 99% of these people would then posses the education on how to use a cargo bike over hills and 1%, duh, would pop out as champions all by themselves. But no, that is not possible, because as we know, bicycle racing is not for everyone. Keep repeating that mantra USA Cycling and you will keep creating what you have created.

 



MichaelGregoryEllis
MichaelGregoryEllis

Lance, no apologies are needed here. Your image climbing the 'Alpe d'Huez will always will me through any race. In a society that always demands a champion a winner and alpha we are the cause.We allow Ray Lewis to play in the NFL and Super Bowl but condemn you.Fans / humans are the hypocrites, they cheat on their taxes, drink and drive, beat their children but in their sanctimonious lives want to hold you to a higher principal. We as a society need to get over ourselves. We are humans, we are flawed and we make adjustment. I believe we can all adjust. If you don’t believe this, then you have not evolved as a human. Lance has demonstrated his humanity and evolution in the creation of Livestrong please demonstrate your humanity and let him adjust.

Jagmer
Jagmer

Armstrong systematically cheated for a decade, maybe longer. How did he get cancer? was that from taking performance enhancing drugs that can cause things like testicular cancer.

Allegedly Armstrong was central to the drug use and cheating in his teams, he pushed drugs onto his team mates, encouraging their use. He lied to courts about his drug use when suing various organisations (perjury), he ruined other peoples lives. He defrauded Americans by using USPS sponsorship money to assist his other crimes. 

Armstrong needs a few years in jail to contemplate his crimes.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/prosecute-lance-armstrong/psZBlyYj

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

So much fuss about a celebrity drug addict .

chirokarras
chirokarras

I find it amusing that the author John Eustice uses that word "proud" to describe Lance Armstrong.  How about narcissistic, anti-social, mean, bully etc.  Just watching him sit there and protect himself and not admit ALL his wrongs so he could "spin" his transgressions was nauseating.  People like the author who appear to faun over Armstrong, only precipitate the whole personality of "a good but fallen persona" that Lance is trying to per sell now that he has been busted.  He was a mean, cruel bully to allot people who could not fight back.  John why don't you write an article about them?  How they suffered, what they feel now, and what they lost.  Shame on you for writing this article at all.

thewholetruth
thewholetruth

Lance will not be back. He goes down as one of the longest liars in History  He lied in Europe and in the USA for almost 10 years. 

1.He denied using drugs to the face of doctors 

2. He told the public he was being picked on and everyone was wrong except him

3. He costed others their only chase to win the Titles and lots of money

4.He made $100 million dollars in endorsements for titles that he cheated to win

5. He is arrogant and an egomaniac. A real interviewer ( not Oprah) would have ripped him apart

Lance will be back.....only  in your dreams


lordofthefly
lordofthefly

He will be back because he is by nature a competitor and he is an excellent athlete. But his comeback will probably mirror that of Tiger Woods'.Like Woods,  Armstrong will be older and will have lost some of his ability to rack up significant wins. And his public won't care as much. He will be diminished. Even Bill Clinton is still the brunt of jokes - and his obit will prominently feature his scandal. From a news perspective, it should, because that is as much a part of his legacy as his administration's achievements.

Sniglet
Sniglet

The thing that really troubles me about this scandal is how the courts, and legal system itself, was used a tool to perpetrate a fraud. Many people were sued and pressured by lawyers to both stay silent and financially ruin detractors.

Does this abuse of the legal system not constitute some form of criminal behavior? Isn't someone who wins a fraudulent lawsuit committing fraud?

It would be sad if the only penalty to be faced from such abusive legal practices is to open oneself to the possibility that the victims will counter-sue. Most of Lance's legal victims don't have the financial wherewithal to launch a legal fight against him. I am sure the big sponsors and insurance companies will sue to recover money, and maybe even some publishers (like the Times), but massage therapists and bike mechanics are unlikely to do so.

Is this a flaw in our legal system? Can criminals simply use the law to further their unlawful activities with impunity?

JaySexton
JaySexton

Presidents,politicians,and business men lie,and there lies do serious dammage to people.Lance lied and cheated in a sport riddled with liars and cheats.The facts remain that he is responsible for the US's love for cycling.He made his sponcers millions.He created a foundation that helps with one of the nations biggest killers.I hope that know that his burdon is lifted he will be able to make a huge comback.This is a country of second chances and I believe  Lance as much as anyone deserves it.

SRileygls
SRileygls

Hint:  Let God decide if Lance's contrition is sincere enough for Him.....and cover yourself.  Forgive Lance.

Surfingbentley
Surfingbentley

I feel sorry for his bike. There is was thinking WOW we've won the Tour De France 7 times only to find out that it's rider was doping!

pribil
pribil

lance armstrong is a bad boy now, but he was good boy, dop is around you know, sport without dop is boring, no money and public. look at bolt, phelps, nhl. nba, soccer, bodybuilding etc....................................lance is legend one way or another!!!!!!

easyweblinx
easyweblinx

I hope we wont hear from him anymore.......

easysportslinx.com

kmyers000
kmyers000

Typical extrovert, narcissistic, egoist rant!  They always need the spotlight on them...

Rosco
Rosco

We all have opinions and this is mine, I personally think this man is the most narcissistic, most self- serving  man. He 'deserves' to be put behind bars. Forget Oprah, do an interview with Paul Kimmage or David Walsh, then the real questions will be asked!

JacoMaso
JacoMaso

He'll be back, in the soup line.  How many lawsuits are against him as I type this?  How many more after I post this?

drrich
drrich

Ray Lewis was allowed to continue after murdering 2 people.  


Fla4Me
Fla4Me

Bill Belichick was allowed to continue so why shouldn't Lance.  

JohnDavidDeatherage
JohnDavidDeatherage

Lance Armstrong: great athlete, flawed character. 15 minutes ended early in 2013.

MolecularMess
MolecularMess

So right.  And a narcissist who rides a bike.  Pinball Wizard bites the dust!

thewholetruth
thewholetruth

@SRileygls  Let him give back the 100 millions in endorsement money. You mentioned  God...in the bible the cheating tax collector offered to payback double when confronted by Jesus. I have not heard Mr. Livestrong mention giving any money back. 

lordofthefly
lordofthefly

@SRileygls 

Most people don't follow cycling the way they do other sports (basketball, football, for example), so most of us arenot in a position to forgive. The athletes whose careers and reputations he harmed, their families and the people associated with Livestrong - they are the ones whose forgiveness he should seek. As bad as sports-related scandals are, most still lack that element that universally engulfs an entire country: the use of public funds. Politicians and state universities with scandal-ridden sports programs really must seek forgiveness. When you view yourself as providng funds for salaries, benefits, security and transportation, all of us who pay taxes have a stake in the lies, cheating and corruption carried out by elected officials, military leaders, officials appointed by the government, etc. Armstrong is not burdened with this.

Surfingbentley
Surfingbentley

@SRileygls You could forgive someone once, but seriously 7 times! and all the people he bullied - No Way!