In October 2012, CNN aired ''The World According to Lance Armstrong," a program on the epic fall of the star cyclist. It outlined the cover-ups, lies, greed, the insatiable appetite to win at any cost and the culture of arrogance in which Armstrong moved so effortlessly.
I say "arrogance," for it has to take an almost “God complex” to engage in the kind of incredible antics CNN accused him of engaging in to win seven successive Tour de France titles and not fear that too many wins would be startlingly suspect or that he didn’t deserve the trophies, accolades and money that accompanied those fake victories, or that children may emulate him and others see him as an inspiration.
Now that he has been stripped of his titles and has gone to Oprah Winfrey, the television host of choice for celebrities who are looking for (or appearing to look) redemption, he is defiantly digging in his heels as the federal government joins the whistle-blower lawsuit against him. Many others are reportedly lining up with their own legal fight aimed at recouping the money paid out to him over the years. He and his team collected over $30 million from the US Postal Service alone.
Armstrong had enjoyed huge endorsements from large sponsors like Nike, and despite his wrongdoings, he apparently doesn’t intend to give up the millions of dollars he pocketed cheating his way to victory.
I guess to the arrogant cyclist, confessing means saying you’re sorry but not necessarily having to show you’re sorry. His Jan. 14 public relations interview with Oprah in Austin, Texas, was clearly just that and had nothing to do with his stunning deception practiced for over a decade. The word "sociopath" comes to mine anytime I think of Lance Armstrong, for it takes a certain personality to do what he did and act the way he’s acting now. Betsy Andreu, one of his close associates at the time now calls him the "Bernie Madoff of sport."
But even a sociopath couldn’t pull off what he did without a wide network of help and enablers. The elaborate, sophisticated method described by fellow cyclist Tyler Hamilton must have something to do with it. But even with all the clandestine, illegal blood transfusions to throw off official testing, there must be a substantial amount of complicity in the cycling world, starting with the USPS officials, doctors and the agency that is supposed to be keeping the competition legal and fair.
Did the International Cycling Union look the other way while Armstrong doped his way to numerous victories? His donations and endowments to doctors and cycling officials will now be seen as bribes. He once gave the doctor who treated his testicular cancer $1.5 million but said under oath it was an endowment, not a payoff for covering.
As mentioned above, Andreu compared Armstrong to Madoff, adding that the doping scandal is the worse in sporting history. During a sworn deposition in 2005, she testified that after Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996, his doctor asked him if he had ever taken performance drugs—to which Lance allegedly replied that he had taken a cocktail. Armstrong denied ever having that conversation with his doctor.
Fellow cyclist Hamilton also sang like a canary, telling astounding tales of blood transfusions in hotel rooms for Lance Armstrong, another team cyclist Kevin Livingston and himself. Armstrong had vehemently denied that claim repeatedly, calling Hamilton “crazy” and a “liar.” Now we know who the liar was, don’t we?
Which brings up another question: What about criminal charges? Track star Marion Jones was sentenced to six months in prison for using performance enhancement drugs, and her abuse of drugs pale in comparison to Armstrong’s. In fact, what she did looks amateurish when we take in the scope of Lance Armstrong’s doping.
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