Saturday, January 19, 2013

What About Lance?

Is he, or is he not, one of the truly great athletes of the past 20 years?

Lance Armstrong.

One who many thought was one of the "good guys" has been found out. The emperor had no new clothes. He was faking it. Juicing. Doping. Cheating and  lying.

But everyone was doing it, he might claim. He had to do it because they were.

No, I don't think that's how it went. THEY had to do it because HE was doing it.  In fact he made a major business of it, for himself and his teammates. He figured out how to get around the rules and regulations and showed others how to do it, too. Because he WAS Lance Armstrong, they went along.

Then he lied some more. He sued those who claimed he was breaking the rules. He won. Because he was Lance Armstrong.

The great survivor's story- a cancer survivor.

Whose cancer could well have been caused by the drugs he was using to be Lance Armstrong.

What a mess! What a God-awful mess!

Now he wants to be forgiven. Now he wants to make amends. Now he wants to come clean.

Because he's Lance Armstrong.

Not because it's the right thing to do at long, long last. No, he wants to come clean so he can be forgiven and be seen as good and righteous and holy. He wants to make amends so he can go back out and win some more and add more to his legacy. He just wants a time-limited sanction instead of a lifetime ban. Give me another chance.  This time, now, I am telling the truth. Trust me, because I am Lance Armstrong.

Sorry, Lance. It doesn't work. What you have done is devastating. You have ruined people. You made cycling a big sport, an Olympic-level sport and then misused, abused, and turned it into your own goldmine of self-aggrandizement. Now the sport is in question. The Olympics may even drop it.

Sorry, Lance. It won't work. I don't believe you anymore. I don't know when to accept your "truth" as reality or your own story to make you look better.

That doesn't mean you can't be forgiven. Of course you can. But that doesn't let you off the hook. Take responsibility for a change. Don't run the races for your glory. Run the races because they are there and help raise money to bring hope to more cancer patients. Run races and do it with humility. Don't need to be at the head of the pack.

Become the Lance Armstrong we all wanted you to be, the one you kept telling us was the real one. Was he? Show us. Over the long term.

There's a saying among some people I know. The only way to regain lost trust is consistency over time. So far your consistency over many years isn't one to instill much hope or trust. Be real, be honest, lose the grandiosity- and do it for years.

Maybe then we will believe you.

In the meantime, thanks for finally coming clean. Now do something with it.

(Note: He did tell Oprah that he raced clean in 2009 and 2010. I hope so. Yes, I am cynical and untrusting. There is no doubt that, even without the doping, he was and is a remarkable athlete. Driven, highly skilled, motivated! That has not been taken away. But let's see him show us in actions, not words.)

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