In the world of sports doping denials, Lance Armstrong's is legend.
More adamant than home run king Barry Bonds, more emotional than track-and-field's Marion Jones, more defiant than flamethrower Roger Clemens.
For more than a decade Armstrong took the old adage "deny 'til you die" to another level.
On Thursday, Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network will air perhaps the longest-awaited apology in sports doping history.
If recent reports are any indication, the "confession" will disappoint, much like Armstrong has over the last several years.
Armstrong, during a two-and-a-half hour interview that took place Monday, admitted to doping—and to duping those rose-colored believers for more than a decade.
But Winfrey told CBS' This Morning today that Armstrong "did not come clean in the way I expected" on whether he used performance-enhancing drugs to win his record seven Tour de France titles.
Is anyone surprised by that?
Armstrong has lied to the world for so long that he is most certainly out of practice when it comes to telling the truth.
But then to whom does Armstrong really owe an apology?
His fans, who were duped into believing the unbelievable? No, like George W. Bush says, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice...well, fool me twice."
The cycling community? That's like a death row inmate apologizing to his cellmates for the crime he committed before the long walk to the chair.
To those who donated to Livestrong? Why? Your money went to a good cause. He didn't wreck your career.
No, most of you were wide-eyed, idealists who simply drank the Livestrong Koolaid.
Armstrong does, however, need to apologize to countless people and organizations that he sought to destroy, to discredit, to defame for the simple fact that they told the truth about him.
For starters, how about apologizing to Betsy Andreu? Andreu and her husband, a former Armstrong teammate, testified under oath that Armstrong admitted to a doctor in 1996 (in her presence) to using HGH and steroids.
Armstrong could have gone the Roger Clemens' route in response to the accusation. He could have simply said that Andreu "misremembered" and left it at that.
Instead, Armstrong called Andreu and her husband Frankie "vindictive, bitter, vengeful and jealous," according to a Daily Mail article that came out the week Armstrong was stripped of his Tour titles.
She was left shaken by a chilling voicemail threatening to "break a baseball bat" over her head, which was among a series of voicemails and emails from friends and associates of Armstrong, seething over what they saw as an act of betrayal from within..."I hope somebody breaks a baseball bat over your head. I also hope that one day you have adversity in your life and you have some type of tragedy that will…definitely make an impact on you."href="She%20was%20left%20shaken%20by%20a%20chilling%20voicemail%20threatening%20to%20'break%20a%20baseball%20bat'%20over%20her%20head%20which%20was%20among%20a%20series%20of%20voicemails%20and%20emails%20from%20friends%20and%20associates%20of%20Armstrong,%20seething%20over%20what%20they%20saw%20as%20an%20act%20of%20betrayal%20from%20within.%20%20%20Read%20more:%20http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-2217361/Betsy-Andreu-reveals-intimidation-Lance-Armstrong.html#ixzz2I3kh7bxZ%20%20Follow%20us:%20@MailOnline%20on%20Twitter%20%7C%20DailyMail%20on%20Facebook">Daily Mail
How about apologizing to Emma O'Reilly? O'Reilly, a young soigneur for the Postal Service team, served as a drug mule for Armstrong and his doping cartel, smuggling steroids and HGH across international borders for several races, including the Tour de France.\
When O'Reilly tried to come clean in 2003 about her role and the rampant use of PEDs in the sport, Armstrong sought to destroy her, as this excerpt from The Guardian reveals:
O'Reilly said Armstrong demonised her as a prostitute with a drinking problem, and had her hauled into court. Ultimately, a legal settlement was reached, and O'Reilly tried to pick up the pieces of her life, sometimes talking about Armstrong and drugs, but to little notice.—The Guardian UK
LeMond didn't even come hard at Armstrong, he simply said in an interview, "If Lance's story is true, it's the greatest comeback in the history of sport. If it's not, it's the greatest fraud."
Armstrong reportedly went after LeMond where it hurt the most—his cycling business.
“Armstrong...went insane with anger, and Greg then was vilified by Armstrong, [he] was put under unbelievable pressure," said British journalist David Walsh, who interviewed LeMond after the situation blew up.
Armstrong used his influence to convince LeMond's sponsor, Trek, to walk away from LeMond and his brand, scuttling a relationship that had lasted more than a decade, Walsh claims.
Trek president John Burke told Bicycle Retailer and Industry News in 2008 that, "Had all the stars aligned with Lance and Greg, if [LeMond] had kept a positive relationship, [the LeMond brand] would have ended up a $30 [million] to $35 million brand.”
“Armstrong could exercise unbelievable influence if he wanted to—to damage your business interests, or destroy your character,” Walsh said. “He was a formidable and very dangerous enemy, Lance, and he didn’t mind using his power to destroy other people.”—David Walsh via Velo News
He may succeed, in a superficial way, with those whose forgiveness really does not matter—the fans, fellow cyclists who never felt Armstrong's wrath, Livestrong supporters.
But it won't mean anything. It shouldn't mean anything.
Unless Armstrong apologizes directly to the people he sought to destroy, discredit and defame. Unless, one by one, he tells them privately—and the world publicly, what he did to them and that he is sorry.
If, of course, he truly is.
That's the big question.
Lou Rom covers the NFL and whatever else gets under his skin for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter at louromlive.
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