Tuesday, February 26, 2013


When we penned our first post on Lance Armstrong we urged him in the spirit of forgiveness to confess and repent all his sins and accomplishing that, start on the road to recovery.  Well, while he came clean with his illegal drug use, we really didn’t see any contrition during and following his staged Oprah confessional.  After all that I’m not so sure that I remain all that imbued with compassion and understanding anymore.  Seems the heinous nature of his manipulations that touched and ruined so many around him were far greater than most ever comprehended.  Armstrong didn’t just take performance enhancing drugs; he strong-armed and intimidated others to do the same and then vilified, insulted, criticized and even sued his accusers and investigators who were, of course, right all along.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USDA) report contains an affidavit by Frankie Andreu (former professional cyclist who was team captain of the U.S. Postal Service with Armstrong) which indicates that Armstrong did more than just criticize three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond for indicating “disappointment” in him, vowing to “take him (LeMond) down.”   Armstrong then is alleged to have attempted to bribe (to the tune of $300K) a former Greg LeMond teammate to claim that he had seen LeMond use the illegal oxygen-boosting drug EPO. The teammate declined the offer.  We note that LeMond’s wins were all “clean” and never disputed.

We could go on and on with the litany of Armstrong’s illegal acts and before you get halfway through you have to wonder about the heart and soul of anyone who would perpetrate these acts, let alone ponder them. There is absolutely no justification or rationalization for his behaviors.

So, should an even greater magnitude of sin render my original plea null and void?  That’s my conundrum and I am at an impasse.  I have close Friends (Texans all) who not sharing my initial perspective (and perhaps with greater insight than I) have now offered the, “I told you so.” And you know what?  They’re right… Armstrong is as bad as or worse than we ever imagined. We remind everybody that he’s only told part of the story and even with the potential that his lifetime ban on competing might be lifted, still wouldn’t totally come clean with cycling’s governing bodies. It’s only going to get worse…

We’ve gone back and read some of the threads and comments from Armstrong apologists before his confession with most either claiming a conspiracy against him or condemning his critics because, “everybody cheats.” Well, no they don’t and there was never a conspiracy against Armstrong, only a trail of evidence (much of it suppressed) where someone eventually connected the dots. Many of Lance’s defenders appear to be broken and even corrupted still mesmerized and held hostage by his tainted heroics and even denying that Armstrong’s use of performance enhancing drugs may have precipitated his cancer. This is truly a modern tragedy.   

As many have pointed out, in our society we are quick to forgive though it all appears to revolve more around our morbid fascination with celebrity and our (anti) hero worship rather than some benevolent religious precept.  That especially includes those bad boys and girls like the now notorious Lindsay Lohan where we seem try to find some reason to forgive and end up giving her even more celebrity - becoming enablers in one sick and hideous reality show.  We have conferred on these folks the permission and opportunity to be what and who they are, acting out for our and their amusement, validating their win at any cost mantra. It would seem that in our society cheating and lying is permissible – as long as you get away with it – even if you get caught.  

And maybe that’s the lesson we take from all this.  There are going to be a lot more losers before the smoke finally clears. If all those inspired and motivated by Armstrong can recover themselves, if cycling (and all sport) can clean up its act and when we as a society finally say enough is enough and stop enabling, rather hold ourselves to a higher standard… well, maybe that’s the potential and ultimate positive we can harvest. That would appear to be the grand test. Are we up for it?


Ned Buxton

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