This week Lance Armstrong is reportedly going to offer an admission to the use of performance enhancing methods during his cycling career. In affect, he will be admitting that he lied to and misled many people and organizations. As an avid cyclist and one of the last holdouts believing in his innocence, I am often engaged in conversation with others about this. The opinions I hear really run the gamut – anything from “heck, everyone was doing it” to “he was inexcusably hostile and defamatory towards those who sought to tell the truth” to “huh? what? is he still in the news?” Most folks I talk to fall in with the second sentiment. Me, I guess I do too. It is true that cycling is riddled with these problems (Actually, all sports are – more on that below). I feel that his belligerent attitude over the course of such a long time and the underhanded deeds done to quiet others constitute the more egregious transgressions.
Contrast this with someone like Tiger Woods. We can debate his level of forgivability. Nonetheless, his quickness to show remorse rather than be obstinate helped put him on a path to both inner and outer recovery. Though his game might not yet be where it once was, his statue on theater stage of golf seems to be as strong as ever. Perhaps too, we as a society weigh differently when someone cheats in their private life (which is not our business) from when they cheat in their public life (which we do see as our business). I have my own hypothesis on why this is so. Lest I digress too much, I will pencil that in for a possible future post.
Getting back to Lance Armstong, only a few fortnights earlier, trending commentary suggested that we might never see the day when Lance Armstrong would admit to cheating in part because of the liabilities that would be exposed and also because it is seemingly out of character for him. Perhaps there is now the realization that an admission is the lesser of two evil paths for him. The burden on his psyche and legacy vs. the stuff that will hit the fan once he comes clean. He can choose to be known forever in history as a cheater and a bully or begin to repair the damage now in hopes that the stain is eventually removed – or at least lessened. Given the longevity of these misdeeds and cover-ups, a long time will be required before he might hope to emerge anew. On the legal side of his troubles, the statute of limitations has expired on doing time for false claims made in 2005. On the financial side, well, this is going to get expensive, as it should.
I feel bad on a number of levels. For the fans who believed in him as well as for the sport and those ensnared in its darker side. I love cycling and I enjoy following the sport. It is unfortunate that it has always been pushed so hard that without performance enhancing agents / techniques it is almost impossible to compete at the pro elite level.
I also wonder why cycling is at such a high profile in this area. Performance enhancing activities exist throughout all major sports. I also contend that “cheating” at some level occurs anywhere there is fame and fortune at stake – from Wall Street to Main Street and everywhere in between. Human ego can be a wicked thing. Then there is society as a whole. We want to bear witness to astonishing results. In sports, it fills the seats with fans which bring revenue to the business of sport and inspiration to the fans of sport.
The sad realization in my view is that we look far too often far outside ourselves for inspiration from people we don’t even know. Yes, many great leaders have inspired mass movements for the betterment of society. But that doesn’t mean all great inspiration comes for such individuals. We should look inward at ourselves and also at those who mean the most to us for deep lasting inspiration. That kind of inspiration is always authentic and never cheats.
As always, I welcome thoughts and feedback.
Thanks for reading and have a Great Day!