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Fans can’t truly forgive Lance Armstrong until he actually shows he’s sorry

The Tour de France champion is still hiding behind the excuse that all professional cyclists took drugs

By on Thursday, 17 October 2013

Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong (AP)

Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong (AP)

When Lance Armstrong was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in January, the chatshow queen immediately hit him with a series of questions that demanded yes or no answers. It made for exhilarating television as he confessed to doping in all seven of his Tour de France victories.

It was confirmation of a truth that many couldn’t – or wouldn’t – believe as victories in the world’s most famous race stacked up for the cancer survivor. For the small band of journalists and former friends and associates of Armstrong who had been calling him out on his cheating for years, the Oprah admissions were vindication at last. The ensuing interview, however, didn’t live up to that electric beginning, with Armstrong’s contrition seeming as genuine as those fraudulent triumphs he achieved from 1999 to 2005.

In 2009, Armstrong, who had battled testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain before winning his first Tour, attempted another comeback and invited documentary maker Alex Gibney along for the gruelling ride. Gibney hoped to make a triumphant, real-life Rocky story. Yet as he was editing his material Armstrong’s cheating was finally exposed.

In August 2012 he announced that he would not contest the charges against him from the United States Anti-Doping Agency, whose subsequent report on the US Postal team, of which Armstrong was undisputed leader, concluded that the team had run “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour titles and banned from professional cycling for life.

Angry at being duped, Gibney went back to Armstrong and demanded a new interview. That interview forms a central part of Gibney’s final cut, The Armstrong Lie, which is being shown at the BFI’s London Film Festival today and will be released in Britain in January.

The film confirms, as the majority of the Oprah interview did, that Armstrong doesn’t appear to be sorry at all. During the Oprah exchanges he trotted out a weasely qualification that he returns to in The Armstrong Lie again and again, which can be summed up this way: “Everyone else was doping, so why pick on me?” Most staggeringly of all, at one point he even seems to suggest that history will judge him and his Tour wins favourably.

In his pomp, Armstrong had stuck to the line that he had never been caught doping as a means of self-justification and shutting down his critics. That was in itself a lie: he was caught doping during his first Tour win, but was able to get away with it. All he has done now is to find a new way to delude himself.

Whether he likes it or not, Armstrong is a special case because of the extent of his cheating, and the way he bullied, intimidated and threatened anyone who tried to tried to tell the truth. A former US Postal masseuse was branded a “prostitute and alcoholic” for revealing the team’s doping secrets, while in 2006 the Sunday Times had to pay Armstrong more than £700,000 in damages and costs for an article that accused him of doping.

There are countless other examples of Armstrong’s terrible behaviour, summed up neatly in The Armstrong Lie (and in Sunday Times sportswriter David Walsh’s excellent book, Seven Deadly Sins), yet it’s a measure of his stubbornness that he is still trying to play down his cheating.

There are those who may sympathise with his “everyone else was doing it” excuse, and greater numbers still who might think that the huge sums raised for his Livestrong cancer foundation more than make up for his cheating.

But given that so many cancer sufferers took solace in Armstrong’s story and that he was able to amass a huge personal fortune while denigrating anyone who accused him of cheating, many won’t accept that he really cares until he comes clean once and for all, and without qualification.

  • paulpriest

    ????!!!!

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord
  • Atilla The Possum

    He is relativism personified.

  • 676aldhelmstown710

    Who or what is Lance Armstrong?

  • johnhenry

    By which I take it you mean what the heck are we talking about him for? Will Gore probably meant to post this on the Banal Bike Blog, or some such.

  • Magystelling

    The same can be said for all members of the hierarchy who have covered up sexual abuse by a cleric. There arrogant embedded in the Culture of Clericalism is egregious. Their lack of integrity has destroyed trust. These supposedly ontological changed men are just as guilty of “soul murdering” as the cleric who abused and they hid..

  • vitrioliccupcake

    We are talking about Lance Armstrong who rode a bike for a living and cheated other cyclists out of their deserved place on the winners podium because he used drugs and bullied people, behaved like a total dictatorial prat and is not sorry for what he’s done.
    The RC Church has apologised wholeheartedly for the evils clerics and religious have done; guidelines have been put into place in diocese to ensure this does not happen again – and even lay people are screened by the Criminal Records Bureau even if they just give Holy Communion at Mass!
    I read in my local paper yesterday that a RC priest has been cleared of all charges of sex abuse because there was no grain of truth in them in the first place!
    A Jewish-led study of abuse concluded that more sexual, emotional and physical abuse was done by SECULAR INSTITUTIONS. non-Catholic ministers, Rabbis, Vicars, Imams have also done their share of this evil, too. It may come as a surprise to you, Missis, that the evils done by the RC Church was much less by percentage.
    So, Magystelling, WIND YOUR NECK IN!

  • Magystelling

    “Magystelling, WIND YOUR NECK IN.” thank you so much for your kind words, Just in recent weeks the prelates of Minnesota and New Jersey have hid clerical predators. Bishop Finn , convicted of hiding an abuser is still ruling his diocese, There are still dioceses who have not agreed to use the meager standards of the Dallas Charter.The same can be said of the Arch Bishop in Poland and the mental reservation used by members of the hierarchy in Australia before a government inquiry.
    As a survivor I wish to heal and not have my anger boil over by these egregious moments of having the prelates of OUR Church flaunt their arrogance before the whole world.
    I am not talking about what is happening in other segments of our society, I am speaking about what is happening in OUR Church. If you are are not concerned with this phenomenon then you are part of the problem.

  • James M

    Well said. The dissonance between talk about him, & what has happened to them & been said to defend them, is intolerable.

  • James M

    He’d make a good Catholic bishop then, or even a cardinal.

  • anarchicprune

    Yes. WIND YOUR NECK IN!
    If bishops etc. will not comply with the proper procedures to safeguard children and vulnerable people in the Church – here isn’t the place to vent your spleen. Write to Rome and copy the letter to your local bishop and persist until something IS DONE.

    OF COURSE I’m concerned!
    I’ve known people who were abused by clerics and non-Catholic religious (i.e. who weren’t even Catholic!) and I have done much to listen to them and direct them to help, which they got.
    There are many, many more who suffered at the hands of people in their own family and the shoddy, couldn’t-care-less attitude of secular social services who won’t do anything about those who continue to suffer.
    That makes me very incandescent and angry because these social services say they have learned lessons but tragedies still happen unnecessarily.
    You cannot judge all the diocese in the world by the standards of those you mentioned. It is not the full picture you erroneously paint – which is where it gets difficult to view the picture impartially and objectively.
    The BBC (who wouldn’t wind their proverbial necks in about the Catholic Church, especially about clerical abuse) had, under their very noses, ”protected” and ”swept under the carpet” many people who got away with abusing and destroying young lives and decent people’s careers for over 50 years – one of which is now the most prolific child sexual predator in British Criminal History: Jimmy Savile.
    Don’t think you were the only one to suffer and be angry by an ineffective hierarchy. There are many more like you in the world.
    You are so up yourself, you think that just because someone has a different angle on things you invalidate me by accusing ME of being part of the problem – nothing could be further from the truth!
    What about the people in the Church – including priests and religious – who are traumatised by news of abuses? Attacked and verbally abused in the street, like one priest I knew – just because he wore a clerical collar!
    No justice in this world will ever punish the evil-doers. Not even if you haul these people up before a firing squad and shoot them with balls of your own poo.
    I’m just sick to death of people like you hijacking a completely unrelated topic which has nothing to do with clerical sexual abuse.
    It happens a lot on these forums.
    We know about it.

  • Atilla The Possum

    Whatever!

  • Magystelling

    Why do you keep changing the subject. I am not talking about sexual abuse in the greater community, Stick to the subject,

  • Cestius

    To the best of my knowledge there is no evidence that Froome and the Sky team have been anything but clean, and unless and until evidence to the contrary emerges, we have to take it that it was a genuinely outstanding performance.

  • Jonathan West

    We are talking about Lance Armstrong who rode a bike for a living and cheated other cyclists out of their deserved place on the winners podium because he used drugs and bullied people, behaved like a total dictatorial prat and is not sorry for what he’s done.

    Surely a comparison of harms is reasonable, and a comparison of the extent of the abuse of a position of trust. It seems to me that the harm done by Armstrong can broadly be categorised as follows

    1. the harm he did to his own body through use of illegal drugs.

    2. The similar harm that he bullied others into doing to their bodies

    3. The money he unfairly won and which should have gone to somebody else racing clean.

    These are not insignificant. But they don’t particularly involve a breach of trust.

    On the other hand, the abusing priests did abuse a position of trust, and so did those in the hierarchy who who covered it up. The harm to the victims is much greater – there have been suicides among victims as a result of abuse, and many of those who did not commit suicide have had their lives irreparably damaged.

    The RC Church has apologised wholeheartedly for the evils clerics and religious have done; guidelines have been put into place in diocese to ensure this does not happen again – and even lay people are screened by the Criminal Records Bureau even if they just give Holy Communion at Mass!

    if you believe that you are living in cloud cuckoo land. I’ve read the child protection policies of a large number of Catholic schools. With a few honourable exceptions, the procedures are so full of holes that they resemble a colander.

    I read in my local paper yesterday that a RC priest has been cleared of all charges of sex abuse because there was no grain of truth in them in the first place!

    I would be interested to see the article. Can you provide a link to the online version of it?

  • anarchicprune

    Who do you think you are, telling ME what to do when, clearly, it was YOU who brought this sorry subject up which is entirely unrelated to the topic at the top of the page?
    Here’s a question:
    Tell me, what is the difference between sexual abuse in the Church and sexual abuse in the greater community? Hmm?
    Answer: There is no difference.
    Is the abuse less traumatic when it happens to a kid in a children’s care home than with a cleric? The abuse was perpetrated by evil people on vulnerable people; people who have positions of trust they clearly abused and bullied and threatened the victims with evil threats if they split on them.
    Sexual abuse is sexual abuse is sexual abuse etc. etc. etc. by whoever has caused it and whoever committed the grave sin of omission by failing to do something about it.
    With your reply to my post, it appears to me that you have an axe to grind about the Church – this is getting very tiresome. A clear Church-bashing agenda, nothing more and nothing less.
    Unless you need to change those glasses of yours, the topic at the top of the page IS about LANCE ARMSTRONG who, as far as I know, was not and never was a Roman Catholic priest who abused anyone.
    If you don’t know the difference, then vent your spleen at those at fault – not here!

  • Magystelling

    By all means express your passions, but please don’t direct your comments to me personally.

  • Tylers_Twin

    There is no evidence that Armstrong doped – never failed a dope test …

  • Tylers_Twin

    Jonathan West – for it is he …