Thanks to Oprah and her own network (actually called OWN, i.e. Oprah Winfrey Network), my alarm went off at 2am and I awoke full of an eager excitement to see Lance Armstrong ‘fess up, spill the beans and, lets be honest, hopefully cry.
The week long anticipation of the interview felt to me like a modern execution. Eagerness, bordering on giddiness, from people across the world that wanted to witness the downfall of one of the most iconic and successful athletes of our generation.Going into today I think I, like many people, wanted to know 3 things: how, when and why.
The why is interesting as we likely know why any athlete takes a PED (Performance Enhancing Drug) or technique. Similarly, we know “why now”. He’s been stripped off his titles, dumped by his sponsors/foundation and basically has everyone, short of his mother, testifying against him.
Therefore the why I was interested in, was “why act the way you did?”, bullying, intimidating, denying in such a manner.So there I was in my flat, iPad adjusted to in-bed viewing, running my hands in excitement (or perhaps just because it was about -5’C in my flat). I couldn’t find the stream, and ironically discovered I don’t have the Discovery channel, which I earlier discovered was showing the interview.
Luckily, like many cat-lovers across the globe, YouTube came to the rescue. 9 separate videos of the interview (Part 1 of 2 of course), totalling about an hour of confessions.
I admit I am not a cycling fan so I am viewing the information, accounts and interview from an uneducated angle. I have read a lot on the subject and allegations and was keen to hear Lance address specific incidents and reports. As much as Oprah was conducting the interview, it was clear what Lance’s motive was: admit to doping, don’t overplay the cancer angle, don’t get into specifics about people/accusations and, to give Lance a grain-of-credit, be honest.
He admitted to ‘using’ a variety of PEDs and techniques during all 7 of his TDF (Tour De France) wins and implied he certainly wasn’t alone. One quote suggested he wouldn’t be shocked if around 195 of the 200 guys on Tour were engaged in similar doping.
Regardless of his obvious confession (which we all knew by this point), the entire interview just felt like a little boy who was caught and had no where else to run. Sly smiles, over-the-top apology statements, tactical avoidance and questionable rationals overshadowed an opportunity for Lance to just let loose on the sport, the cheats and the allegations.
Wearing what seemed to be the same attire as Tiger Woods wore during his famous confession two years ago, Lance Armstong’s brain was working in overdrive to admit what he felt he needed to but maintain some of his dignity and persona, on which he built his billion-dollar empire.
One part of the interview I felt poignant was Oprah saying how fame merely amplifies the person you are. If you are a jerk, you become a bigger jerk. If you a humanitarian, you become a bigger humanitarian. Lance responded saying he felt he was both. Truth is Lance, anyone with you wealth and backing could become a worthy humanitarian, few could become the jerk that you grew to become.
Did the interview answer my questions and satisfy my disgust with Armstrong? Not really.
It was a desperate plea by Lance to save any shred of respect he still has in a tip-of-the-iceberg PR interview. With Part 2 to come tonight and producers clearly saving the tears for the end, I can’t help but feel bad for this guy. No doubting he came through what must be one of the hardest fights and experiences a human can endure, and regardless of how he built his empire, the Livestrong Foundation is a worthy organisation, but ultimately we all get one chance at our lives and for the most part, he chose to live his lying, bullying and cheating.
For me, he is a liar and it is difficult for me to suddenly believe all he is saying is suddenly gospel. Sitting here in my armchair-jury position, I don’t buy it all, and to be honest I don’t buy much of it.
I found it funny how aggressively he denied doping on his comeback (2010/2011). So I did some iPhone research. He has been given a lifetime ban from competition (cycling, triathlons, mountain biking etc). If he apologises and fesses up, the governing bodies may reduce his ban. The minimum ban? 8 years. When did he last claim to have doped? 8 years ago. Is he looking for a free pass for a triathlon retirement?
I doubt many people will care about what he has to say or what he does from here. And in a trend that seems to be growing (see: baseball, athletics, NFL) the lure of money and fame appears to outweigh the guilt/risk of cheating.
It’s sad, and without meaning to overthink this point, are the consequences and motives in today’s world enough to prevent bankers, kids, athletes, husbands, wives and politicians from lying, and gaining from what they say and do. Much like the end of Life Of Pi, I’ll leave that up to you.
One thing I feel strongly about (being golf-guy) is the difference between Lance and Tiger’s confessions.
Apart from the Nike confession attire (suit jacket and open-collar blue shirt says ‘forgive me’, didn’t you know that?), one of them cheated on his sport, his profession, and profited from an unfair advantage building a billion dollar empire from that success. An empire built on hard work and healthy living. The other cheated on his wife. No doubting what Tiger did (and did again… and again… and again x 60+) isn’t right, but I don’t think he owed us (the public) an apology for this actions. His success is built on his sporting excellence which is clear.
I am not a huge Tiger fan, but expect when I get to work this morning, that I will be rolling my eyes at tweets and articles comparing the two men.
Anyway, that is my rant. It took me precisely 36 minutes to write walking to work. The cost of my rant? Possibly my fingers. With the temperature currently 0’C, my fingers are becoming less sensitive and more blue.
Interestingly, during this walk/article composition, I was text-ed by someone telling me I was mad for getting up and watching the Lance interview. They told me I should take some sleeping pills and get some sleep.
Did we not learn anything from the Lance interview?! Is that pill not enhancing my performance to sleep?! C’mon people. Wise up!