I, like many of you, watched the Lance Armstrong confession on the Oprah Winfrey Network (the world leader in sports news) and realized something:
Lance Armstrong really is, in the truest sense of the word, a raging jerk.
There were so many points throughout the interview where any sane person would've realized that they were making a complete fool of themselves and just said, "I'm sorry" that Lance instead used to say, "Whatever, I still won, so screw off."
It seemed, throughout the interview, that Lance was more committed to providing comedic fodder for late night television hosts than in actually providing his adoring fans with a heartfelt mea culpa. The interview was a spectacle by all accounts.
He never seemed close to being the least bit remorseful, and his demeanor most closely resembled that of a junkyard dog. For those of you unfamiliar with the interview (Part 1 and Part 2 transcripts), here are just a few examples of some of his ludicrous, self-destructive quotes:
On The Subject Of His PED Of Choice:
"My cocktail, so to speak, was EPO, but not a lot, transfusions and testosterone, which in a weird way I justified because of my history of testicular cancer...Surely I’m running low."
On His Inflammatory Remarks Towards Betsy Andreu, the Wife of Former Armstrong Teammate Frankie Andreu, Who Accused Armstrong Of Doping Numerous Times:
"I called you crazy. I called you a bitch. I called you a liar. But I never called you fat."
On How He Views Himself:
"I would say I was both a jerk and a humanitarian."
The interview was surreal in it's oddity. It genuinely seemed like he wanted everyone in America to know that he really didn't care. You could almost hear Armstrong's PR agents slamming their heads against the wall as he plowed through his Tour De Apathy with Oprah.
Most of the time, when a national celebrity goes onto a syndicated network to issue a long-awaited apology, the goal is to come off as welcoming and regretful. Armstrong came off about as welcoming as a sweater made from barbed wire. And yet, despite all of these character issues, and the doping, and the constant defamation of others who all turned out to be telling the truth, I found myself coming to another realization as the interview ended:
I couldn't care less.
Seriously, that's not hyperbole. I mean that in the truest sense of the statement. I honestly couldn't care less whether or not Lance Armstrong took steroids or not. In fact, I still kind of like the guy.
Now, let me elaborate on that statement. I'm not saying I'd want to have a beer with the guy. I feel like that would somehow turn into some weird chugging contest, with Armstrong insisting that he beat me by at least half a beer and telling me how inferior I was to him.
Hell, I'm not even saying I would want to be in the same room as the guy, because again, he really does seem insufferable.
What I am saying however, is that this man, like it or not, was the founder of the Livestrong Foundation, and was an inspiration to millions who have been afflicted with cancer worldwide. And I, for one, still find that to be his greatest accomplishment.
I could care less about steroids or doping. Since 1996, do you know how many Tour De France winners have never been found guilty of or admitted to doping? Three. That's not a typo. Of the past 17 Tour De France winners, only three have gone their entire careers without ever testing positive, being found guilty of or admitting to using steroids.
Hell, in 2005 the highest placing cyclist who never tested positive or was sanctioned for doping was the eighth-place finisher. And this epidemic isn't just a recent phenomenon. All the way back to 1961 you have winners like Jacques Anquetil who have admitted to doping.
But really, who can blame these guys? They are being asked to ride a bike through roughly 2,000 miles of hills, mountains and hairpin turns. Think about that number. 2,000 miles. If someone asked me to ride my bike two miles the anxiety alone would probably cause me to faint. Yet for some reason, as sports fans, we become shocked each time one turns up a positive test result.
Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm not even close to being a casual fan of cycling. So for many in the cycling community who are looking at this from purely a sporting perspective, I can understand your outrage and hatred at the jerk from Texas who still seems to struggle to understand he was wrong. But in light of all of those numbers I just presented, let me present just one more:
That is roughly the amount in U.S. dollars that the Livestrong Charity has raised to date for cancer research and support programs. The charity has received near perfect ratings from charity evaluation websites such as charitynavigator.org and give.org. According to Charity Navigator, they spend 86 cents on each dollar donated towards funding programs for patients and survivors.
Given all of these facts, I can almost understand why Lance lied for so long.
Maybe I am just playing devil's advocate. But the harsh reality as I see it is that if he had admitted to doping from the start, none of this progress would have been possible. I understand the appeal from him, beyond the egotistical standpoint, for elevating himself to atmospheric heights. He almost had to. That's what got people interested. It's what got people to donate to cancer.
Now again I'm not saying what he did was right. He cheated his sport and his peers, and for that he should be criticized. But it seems like every day people are trying to ignore the good this man has accomplished. Many have taken off their Livestrong bracelets. Others have even gone so far as to ask for their donations back, saying that they were duped by this false idol in a yellow jersey they had come to worship.
These people might be more insufferable than even Lance.
Because regardless of what anyone's reason for donating to Livestrong was, the reality of the situation is their money went towards fighting cancer.
And I for one think that cause is slightly more noble than a bunch of men in tights riding bicycles.