I watched 60 Minutes Sunday night as former cyclist Tyler Hamilton joined the growing chorus of those accusing Lance Armstrong of using performance enhancing drugs.
I have no reason to believe Hamilton, a former teammate of Armstrong’s, is lying. And I am fairly certain that defrocked Tour de France champion Floyd Landis, another former teammate, was also telling the truth months ago when he implicated Armstrong as a cycling doper.
If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know that I favor letting athletes use whatever they need to deal with the extreme physical demands of their sports. That said, what really makes me angry is the hypocrisy that this issue continues to provoke. Let me ask and answer several key questions.
Did Lance Armstrong use performance enhancing drugs to become he world’s top cyclist and win seven Tour de France championships? Of course he did.
Why did he do it? Because he had to. It was the only way he could compete at the highest level. Every elite cyclist is on something—period.
Why does Armstrong continue to lie about his use of performance enhancing drugs? He lies because he is now trapped into an image he helped create and millions of his admirers embraced. He is the cancer survivor who beat death to become a role model for the ages.
Lance Armstrong’s personal story is one of the most seductive ever told. It is tailor-made for human beings who desperately need someone to believe in and be inspired by. But Armstrong’s story is also a fairy tale.
When the time comes that Armstrong is forced to finally tell the truth—and that time will eventually come—his supporters who’ve blindly taken him at his word will feel betrayed and stunned. Others will make excuses for him, because of what he’s done to help others. But to them I say, please save your outrage and hypocrisy. It's not worth it.
There is only one way for the Lance Armstrong story to end—badly.