Lance’s legacy: A cycle of lies
Lance Armstrong’s mechanical interview with Oprah Winfrey last week further illustrates that the disgraced and dethroned winner of seven Tour de France bicycle races is among the more practiced Machiavellian personalities of our time.
There is the altruistic Lance Armstrong. A survivor of testicular cancer, Armstrong founded the Livestrong Foundation to find “new ways to raise awareness, increase outreach and facilitate collaboration in an effort to improve the cancer experience.”
The foundation raises more than $35 million every year, $470 million in total, with more than 80 percent of its funds spent on program activities. As charities go, it’s a model of efficiency.
In light of Armstrong’s admitted transgressions, the worst thing that could happen would be that the fine work of this organization be diminished in any way.
There is the inspirational Lance Armstrong. His recovery from late-stage metastatic testicular cancer, however it was abated and abetted by performance-enhancing drugs, has been a revelation to countless cancer patients.
When popular ESPN sports anchor Stuart Scott tweeted last week that his cancer had returned, he included the hashtag #Livestrong. Armstrong’s loudest and most steadfast defender, ESPN columnist Rick Reilly, never flinched from shamelessly defending Armstrong for more than a decade, in part because his sister drew strength and courage from Armstrong’s experience and writings.
There is the conniving Lance Armstrong. Last year, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency concluded the doping regimen he orchestrated on the U.S. Postal Service Tour de France-winning teams was “the most sophisticated, organized and professionalized” in the history of cycling. When he did test positive for testosterone once, he was able to finagle a post-dated doctor’s prescription.
There is the ruthless Lance Armstrong. Virtually everyone who stood up to admit their role in the doping scheme and thereby implicate Armstrong was met with assaults on their characters and legal challenges.
There is the manipulative Lance Armstrong. In a gut-wrenching ESPN column Wednesday, Reilly reacted to getting a two-word (“I’m sorry”) emailed apology after the Winfrey interview was recorded:
“Two words? For 14 years of defending a man? And in the end, being made to look like a chump? … Armstrong always told me he was clean … On the record. Off the record. Every kind of record. In Colorado. In Texas. In France. On team buses. In cars. On cell phones … And the whole time he was lying. Right in my earpiece. Knowing that I’d hang up and go back out there and spread the fertilizer around some more … Made me look like a sap. Made me carry his dirty water, and I didn’t even know it.”
Time and time again, Armstrong has demonstrated his willingness to employ whichever personality he believes best fits his objectives at that given moment.
A near lifetime of now admitted lying, cheating and bullying strongly suggests his performance with Winfrey was no different.