With Lance Armstrong’s confession to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs to repeatedly win the Tour de France multi-stage bicycle race, the question arises: Is Lance Armstrong the biggest liar alive?
Armstrong, unlike some other sports heroes, has not been charged or convicted of criminal perjury. But his lies are monumental, endured for years and were aimed at creating an image that made him famous, wealthy and an inspiration for people with cancer. He was the ringleader of lying on his team — and he kept lying even after many of his co-conspirators and teammates had abandoned him.
It is a record of shame that he has only begun to confront reluctantly and under pressure — after almost his entire professional career has been wiped from the pages of history. Armstrong earns Four Pinocchios — for each Tour de France race in which he claimed he won first place without doping.
His confession has been seen by some as the first step to redemption, but remains not enough for others. Tracee Hamilton writes:
Sadly, even Lance Armstrong’s contrition is contrived, it seems. His mea culpa to Oprah Winfrey — always guaranteed to bump a miscreant’s Q rating — is not actually about apologizing to his fans and coming clean, so to speak, about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. It’s about reducing liability and getting back on a bike in competition (in the triathlon; one assumes even an ego such as Armstrong’s knows his Tour de France days are over).
When last I broached the subject of Armstrong, it was not to declare his innocence, but to decry the relentless and costly pursuit of him by USADA. At the time, I had little doubt that Armstrong had doped, but I also had doubts about the investigation.
USADA’s report put those doubts to rest. The evidence is there and irrefutable, and that was plain when the report was released and Armstrong was silent. And he has been silent since, until he began calling people a few days ago to apologize for what was coming on Oprah’s OWN network Thursday and Friday nights.
There isn’t a friends-and-family plan large enough to cover the people Armstrong needed to call, and his plan had better have unlimited minutes, because now he has to apologize for cheating and lying. They are separate bad acts, but while cheating may outweigh lying in the sports world, and is no doubt a character flaw, it can (and has been) punished by that same sports world. (And no, I don’t buy the “everyone was doing it” argument that some of his loyal supporters still use. That’s the argument of a teenager pushing the parental boundaries, not a debate point for a grown man who is supposed to know right from wrong.)