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January 19, 2013 • Editorials, Health and Fitness

Lance Armstrong’s Offenses Transcend Cheating, Are More About Abuse and Coercion


Last summer, I wrote about Lance Armstrong saying that he gave into the “need to be seen as better than all others that they are willing to go to any length – and take any number of people with them – to feed their ego-trips and need for adulation. Including cheating, and conspiracy, and use of drugs that have shown long-term health effects, and so on.” In his interview with Oprah he more or less confirms ALL of that … but as Carly pointed out, his motives were very likely not particularly pure.

In terms of the interview itself, some very clear motivations can be seen, including:

  • For Oprah, it means millions of dollars and loads of attention for her not-so-successful network.
  • For Armstrong it means millions of dollars (no payday was publicly released, but I have heard numbers upwards of $50 million)
  • For Armstrong it allowed a controlled release of information in a relaxed setting. Because while Oprah asked all of the relevent questions, she certainly didn’t ‘hardball’ him.
  • For Armstrong it allows him to attempt to shape the ‘outcome’. Again, as Carly mentioned much of that has to do with a return to competition and all of the sponsorship money. But there is more …

The other thing Armstrong wants more than forgiveness is … forgetting. What does he want you to forget? Everything except for his cancer and his doping. For his doping he admits to his own mistakes and seeks forgiveness, even linking his doping to the fight against cancer to provide sympathetic linkage.

His cancer is the cornerstone of his image, with it helping him be seen as an inspiration – in fact, when you look at what others have come out and done through inspiration they found from Armstrong, it is impossible not to be moved. That is the basis of LiveStrong, and is what Armstrong needs to have any future.

But what he wants you to forget is the pattern of attack, discredit, public smears and lawsuits he brought against anyone who questioned him through the years. This article at Slate details some of it; here is a snip:

That seems to be the game plan Armstrong brought to this interview. Downplay your power over others. Deny issuing explicit orders to dope. Convert any such story into a matter of setting a poor example. Take responsibility for yourself, but suggest that others—those who claim you pressured them—must do the same. Recast your threats, retributions, and demands for silence as products of a hard life. Reduce your sins of coercion to a sin of deceit.

Through the years Armstrong employed savage bullying tactics and later denied them, but now he tries to write them off as ‘setting a poor example’ or as a by-product of his cancer. An article here details his campaign against the only other American Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.

A quick search will pull up hundreds of similar articles, detailing years upon years of threats, coercion, lawsuits, massive anonymous campaigns against ‘enemies’ and more. For years, Armstrong defenders have brushed them off, or simply said ‘everyone cheats in cycling’. Yet the stories told by these people, even those readily admitting to their own doping, tell very different tales. NOT everyone in cycling cheats, and Lance Armstrong in particular took things to an entirely different level.

Right now there is a significant possibility that Lance Armstrong could lose all of his $100 million fortune. His admission of guilt, such that it is, has little to do with contrition and everything to do with controlling the future of his empire. He can admit to doping, and take the fall for that … but he cannot admit to coercion or other things that would cost him tens of millions. And he will likely not testify under oath as that could well bear criminal charges.

As Slate says, even as he (ironically) comes clean, he is trying to control the narrative … which has been his own code-phrase for over a decade of lying, cheating, threats of violence, lies and ruin upon others and more. He is more than just a cheater and poor example, he is dangerous and needs to be fully stopped before he ruins more lives.

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