During part one of Oprah Winfrey’s highly anticipated interview with defamed, cycling legend Lance Armstrong which aired Thursday night on January 17, 2013 on the OWN network, Armstrong finally admitted to using performance-enhancing-drugs (PEDs).
He finally unmasked the heroic persona that the world has come to know, love, respect and admire over the years and revealed the cold, hard, shameful truth about the selfish, conniving scoundrel that hid in plain sight behind his neatly woven web of deceit.
To her credit, Winfrey conducted a good series of questions for Armstrong as she tried to peel back the layers of deception by getting him to paint a vivid picture of his doping world and the heartless shenanigans that were used to sustain it.
To his credit, Armstrong continuously took responsibility for his actions by claiming that he was the one who is most at fault. And although Armstrong was willing to drag out the many skeletons of the corrupted, cycling industry, when it came to many of the specific damnations of his conduct and his character, his memory and his honesty seemed to fail at times.
For example, When Armstrong was asked about stories given by former riders who were with him at the time that suggested that all of them doped together—sometimes within earshot of the fans and then disposed of the cringes in soda cans before crushing them, Armstrong had trouble remembering such details, even though he did not deny that such events did happen.
Also, when Winfrey asked him about charges from his former, cycling buddies that he pressured other riders to join him in his doping escapades, Armstrong claimed that he did not do such a thing. Winfrey then asked him bluntly if he had the power to fire people or have them fired, because he was the mighty Lance Armstrong. He admitted that it was possible, but he swore that he didn’t engage in that behavior.
In other words, he was certainly a doper who cheated, conspired and lied, but he was definitely not a dictator drunk on his own prestige and the perks that seemed to come with it. Winfrey even questioned whether he was dancing around the truth through semantics, as he confessed that he did nudge other riders to quote, unquote: up-their-game if they wanted to stay on the team.
The question then becomes: what does it mean to up your game? As Winfrey espoused, it sounded like Armstrong implied to other riders that it would be in their best interests to get with the winning/doping program, even if he was careful not to directly demand it.
And that just about sums it up. If someone would do anything to win, which Armstrong admitted that he would, what’s a little inconvenience like using your influence to weed out the weak?
Lance Armstrong is what he is—a person who would do whatever it took to get on top and a person who would do even more to stay on top, and he is not alone. Whenever he crossed the finish line first, there were doped riders right behind him.
The price of success can be exceedingly high in our glitter-loving society, and the number of participants and volunteers willing to scale that mountaintop is even higher—as is the vast landscape of appetites that crave every moment of it, and nothing about any of this will change until that aspect changes!
In other words, if you pick the wrong hero based on the glamour and glitz of television and fame, when there are less glamorous yet more genuine heroes within your everyday life circle that go unnoticed, does that say more about the shortcomings of your hero, or does it say everything about the shortcomings of you?