Lance Armstrong Says His Stepfather Beat Him with a Fraternity Paddle as a Child

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2020

JACO, COSTA RICA - NOVEMBER 01:  Lance Armstrong of the United States competes in Day 1 of the La Ruta de Los Conquistadores on November 1, 2018 in Jaco, Costa Rica.  La Ruta de Los Conquistadores is Costa Rica's premier mountain bike race, and one of the most difficult races in the world. The race was started in 1993 by Roman Urbina. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong opened up about his challenging upbringing during the documentary LANCE, discussing abuse he suffered as a child.

Armstrong specifically noted physical punishment from his stepfather, Terry Armstrong.

"Sure enough, I would leave a drawer open, and he would pull out his fraternity paddle and just beat the (expletive) out of me," he said.

He added that his stepfather, who adopted him when he was three, was "kind of terrible."

Terry Armstrong didn't deny the punishment, noting it was his parental style coming from a military school background.

"I was a taskmaster, but I didn't put my arms around him enough and tell him I loved him," he said. "I was always there, always coaching him, always pushing him. But I didn't show him the love that I should have."

Lance went on to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles and was at the pinnacle of his sport, but it was later revealed he used performance-enhancing drugs, and he was stripped of those triumphs.

Terry believes his parenting played a key part in Lance's success—as well as possibly his downfall.

"Lance would not be the champion he is today without me because I drove him," he said in the ESPN documentary. "I drove him like an animal. That's the only thing I feel bad about. Did I make him too much 'win at all costs'?"

Lance's mother and stepfather divorced when he was 15.