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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Lance Armstrong Doesn't Owe Us Anything

Calum Hayes |
January 23, 2013 | 8:15 p.m. PST


Lance Armstrong has been doping throughout his cycling career. (Eugene Wei, Creative Commons)
Lance Armstrong has been doping throughout his cycling career. (Eugene Wei, Creative Commons)
I intentionally waited a week to write an article on Lance Armstrong. My hope is that by having waited, I am writing an article that will fall on less emotional ears. While Mr. Armstrong was initially overshadowed by the news of Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend, his is a story that has more legs than Mr. Te’o’s.

I need to preface this article with a disclaimer. My father is an avid cyclist. My father has also donated every yellow rose Livestrong has handed out at one of their rides for cancer survivors over the years. I grew up in a home full of Lance Armstrong photos and posters. To this day, there is a Livestrong sticker on my water bottle (you better believe I’m eco friendly like that).

Lance Armstrong spent the past decade and a half lying to us all. He spent a decade and a half telling you and me that he not only never used performance enhancing drugs, but that it was out-of-this-world disrespectful to even wonder if he had. Mr. Armstrong has built the Livestrong organization on the back of lies and cheating. Mr. Armstrong has gained fame, fortune and notoriety on the back of lies and cheating. I really only have one thing to say about the behavior of Mr. Armstrong…So what?

I am not condoning cheating, and I am not condoning lying. Mr. Armstrong owes whatever reparations he does to all those he slandered and sued in the last decade and a half. Mr. Armstrong owes an apology to those people - beyond a doubt. But why does he owe you one? Why does he owe me one? You are hurt every day by people in your life, by people with whom you come into real, human contact, people from whom you don’t feel the need to demand an apology like we do from Mr. Armstrong.

There is a feeling of anger directed toward Mr. Armstrong in this country. That anger may be less now than it was a few short years ago when more of us believed Mr. Armstrong’s story, but it is still there. To those of you angry at, upset with, or hurt by Mr. Armstrong, I really only have one query: are you really angry with him, or are you angry with yourself? Colin Cowherd regularly repeats on his show, “Don’t worship human beings. That way you’re never disappointed.” Lance Armstrong has proven to be an incredibly flawed human being (shocking). Lance Armstrong lied, cheated and slandered those who tried to poke holes in his lie. In other words, Lance Armstrong exhibited the same traits you and I exhibit every day.

Every single one of us has lied (unless Jesus is a reader, in which case lets agree I have it MADE), every one of us has tried to make those poking holes in our lies look less credible. The only difference between we and Mr. Armstrong is that his platform was larger. While we may not get to go on Oprah and declare our lies, if we’re honest with ourselves we all have something we could tell her. We all have something we need to confess. Lance Armstrong doesn’t owe you or me an apology; he doesn’t owe you or me anything. Mr. Armstrong has many issues that he has chosen to make public knowledge on national TV; but I ask you, is it really his fault for not being the messiah? Or is it ours for trying to make a man on a bike just that?


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Bryan Jackson (not verified) on January 26, 2013 2:28 PM

What's disturbing to me is not so much Lance's confession to have lied (as anyone who knows about and/or follows pro cycling knows that the sport is, and has been for a very long time, rife with drug enhanced performances), but rather how viciously he attacked those who dared reveal "that the Emperor had no clothes". Unfortunately, he still displayed this aspect of his "flawed character" in his supposedly "heart felt" confession to Oprah. I guess that, in a way, justice has been served in that he has been stripped of his titles, including his Olympic medal, and will go down in cycling history as nothing but a total disgrace and embarrassment!

Paulo Natal (not verified) on January 25, 2013 5:54 AM

Pedestals are certainly not for people, independently of how extraordinary they might be. But with all the respect for your opinion i think the guy actually owes us all(cycling fans) an apology. How dare he spend all this time pretending to be someone he never was, he could never be? I mean, this guy inspired so many. How would you feel when confronted with the fact that someone you looked up too, who truly influenced your live was a fraud? Oh yes, he owes an apology to more than the slandered and sued, my friend.

ydoineedone (not verified) on January 24, 2013 7:40 PM

You are so right Tommy. So many people are shouting from the rooftop "off with his head". Give the guy a break.There are many people he needs to make things right with but most of us aren't one of them. If you have ever spoken to a sales rep or heard a politician speak you have been lied to. And yet no one is outraged about that.

Bob L. (not verified) on January 24, 2013 11:22 AM

While your "let he who casts the first stone be without sin" response is interesting, it does not explore the other questions with Mr. Armstrong's flawed character. I believe the reason that so many of us are so disappointed in Mr. Armstrong is because it reduces our inherent trust in our fellow man. While there are plenty of liars and cheats out there, I believe they represent a small minority of the population. For the most part, I have found that people are honest and upstanding. There are very few who blatantly lie, cheat and steal as aggressively as Mr. Armstrong did. We are disappointed in Mr. Armstrong not only because he did those things, but because now the next time someone else claims they are being railroaded by the press (which happens quite often) we become jaded to their claims of innocence. Mr. Armstrong has taken our trust in our fellow man down a notch by his nefarious actions. For that he does owe you and me an apology and he should be held accountable, regardless of who throws any stones here.