Lance Armstrong Doping Admission Just Another Self-Serving Ploy

Alessandro MiglioFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2013

ASPEN, CO - AUGUST 25: Lance Armstrong finishes the Power of Four Mountain Bike Race on Aspen Mountain on August 25, 2012 in Aspen, Colorado. (Photo by Riccardo S. Savi/Getty Images)
Riccardo S. Savi/Getty Images

Lance Armstrong is a fraud, a bully and an egomaniac. Then again, you probably knew that by now.

Those are words coming from someone who believed him close to the bitter end, even as the evidenced piled up. After all, he tested cleanly throughout his career despite being in the crosshairs of the World and U.S. Anti-Doping Agencies, not to mention those around the world who suspected him all along.

How else would you explain the decade-long evasion of his ultimate fate?

His defiant, dogged determination to keep his legacy led him down some nasty paths. The man had been under suspicion of cheating since the '90s, threatening his teammates, friends and their families along the way. 

Just take the way his former friends, Frankie and Betsy Andreu, were treated because they overheard his admission of doping way back when Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer (via Jacqueline Magnay, The Telegraph):

Armstrong ridiculed Betsy at every opportunity. "The worst day was in 2006 when my deposition [about the hospital evidence] was leaked and Frankie had left that day to go to France so I was left here alone,” she said. “I was being described by Lance as fat and ugly. That doesn’t matter, but the crux of the matter is people believed him that I was crazy and unhinged and they just bumped me.

"But it didn’t put pressure on our marriage. The pressure was on Frankie and on his jobs drying up. It wasn’t going to break us, in fact it made us stronger." 

Or how about former Postal Service team masseuse Emma O'Reilly (via the New York Daily News):

Once my involvement in the (book) project became known, Lance wasted no time attacking me and my reputation. Lance also tried to discredit me by publicly referring to me as a prostitute and an alcoholic. The lawsuits against me were dropped or settled in 2006, but the damage Lance caused to my reputation still remains.

Former teammates were subject to Armstrong's wrath, too (via the New York Daily News): 

Tyler Hamilton, whose book “The Secret Race” detailing the hidden world of doping was released this summer, and who was physically accosted in 2011 by Armstrong in an Aspen restaurant after he began cooperating with law enforcement.

According to Hamilton’s testimony, Armstrong told him, “When you’re on the witness stand, we are going to f------ tear you apart. You are going to look like a f------ idiot. I’m going to make your life a living . . . f------ hell.” 

Even publications were caught up in his Armstrong's bullying wake (via Robert GarbuttCycling Weekly):

Lance had always been a bully, but it had little to do with us until he tried to dictate who was allowed to write for our magazines. It was made very clear that if any of our journalists sat next to Walsh in press conferences, or worst of all, should any magazine print his words, then we would be ‘on the list.'

That meant we would be completely cut-off - no interviews, no nothing from the Armstrong camp. The Cycle Sport feature was commission as soon as I could reach David Walsh on the phone. 

These are just the tip of the iceberg, the opening stage of Armstrong's personal tour of rage. 

True, the 41-year-old former cyclist is the founder of Livestrong, a cancer foundation that has raised millions to help cancer patients get through the disease

But does this excuse his reported heinous behavior throughout the years? Armstrong's strong-arming has caused plenty of suffering over time. Not to mention the Global Post questioning whether the drugs played a part in the testicular cancer that he ultimately beat. Would his foundation exist had he not doped?

Rumors that Armstrong was mulling an admission of guilt for doping have percolated for a few weeks, and it appears the former seven-time Tour de France winner is set to do just that on Oprah this week, according to Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today, kicking off a quest for redemption.

For many, this is a non-story. The cancer-beating cyclist has already been found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs after dodging the charges for over a decade; an admission of guilt is akin to an admission that he rode a bicycle.

Those he threatened or sued along the way might feel vindicated, but this cannot bring back the years of pain. After all, why should they have endured humiliation—public or private—at the hands of a narcissist trying to preserve his place in cycling's history?

Armstrong has ironically become a cancer to his public persona and the organization he founded. He stepped down from Livestrong as sponsors dropped him like a bad habit. 

If his goal is to get Livestrong back on track, then perhaps this admission is necessary. However fraudulent Livestrong's existence might be, it could very well be the only thing left in this ordeal worth saving. 

Despite stepping down as the foundation's chairman, its fate could be tied to Armstrong's (via Stephanie Saul, New York Times):

Now, the fates of Mr. Armstrong and the foundation are again linked as both try to rebound from a doping scandal that led to Mr. Armstrong’s ignominious fall. Friends and associates have said that Mr. Armstrong will admit to using performance-enhancing drugs when he sits down Monday for a taped interview with Oprah Winfrey. The confession, they said, is part of a bid by Mr. Armstrong to resume his athletic career and rehabilitate the reputation that helped build the charity and the rest of his financial empire.

An examination of Livestrong shows the degree to which the charity, Mr. Armstrong’s business interests and those of his associates have long been intertwined.

While Mr. Armstrong’s celebrity fed the charity, the charity also enhanced his marketability. Livestrong also engaged in some deals that appeared to have benefited him and his associates, according to interviews and financial records.

At this point, it is difficult to view Armstrong's confession without a healthy amount of cynicism. As Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel puts it, Armstrong had better accompany his admission with a host of apologies. But even that would be self-serving.

That cynicism says the primary reason for Armstrong's Tour de Farce is to salvage a legacy he built on a house of deceit. He wants to compete again, though it is impossible to understand why he would be allowed back into a sport he so thoroughly angered and embarrassed.

In the end, Armstrong might be able to leverage concern for Livestrong and an appearance of contrition into sympathy. He is a cult of personality among his supporters, and forgiveness comes easily.

Maybe Armstrong found himself in a briar patch with thorns of lies and deceit, and the only way to get out and heal was to get caught. Perhaps he is genuinely sorry for what he has done.

But at this point, why should we believe him?