Lance Armstrong Lied
The saga of Lance Armstrong continues to carry considerable media attention and ongoing interest by sports fans. It is now apparent that Lance has been lying to the media, his fans, his sponsors and virtually everyone else including the US Anti Doping Agency. Why would Lance lie in the first place? Well, let’s start with money.
Lance Armstrong has made millions in prize money, sponsor support, endorsement deals and appearance fees. In addition to prize money won with seven Tour de France titles, Lance won races from North America to Europe, most of which carried a prize purse.
Additionally, sponsors have poured millions of dollars into Lance and his various teams over the years allowing him to race around the globe and capitalize on the Lance Armstrong brand.
But what about all those supportive and well-meaning people who were lied to? Do they have a right to feel betrayed? Yes, they do. And what about the prize money? Does Lance have an obligation to pay it back? Well, that is still to be determined but one thing seems certain. Lance Armstrong is in trouble. He faces civil and criminal suits and demands to return prize money. His legal troubles are just beginning.
While I have not seen the recent television interview in its entirety, I have seen clips where Lance nominally apologized and also said that he “deserved the opportunity to compete again.” Not only is this arrogant but completely ill timed. Lance Armstrong lied to virtually everyone around him including the media and his own family. What punishment is appropriate in these circumstances and what penalties will he pay? The answers will be evident in the months ahead but in any case, Lance Armstrong will have to “pay the piper” and that payment may include jail time if criminal charges are proven.
As a long time cyclist I have always admired Lance Armstrong’s athletic accomplishments. And I have long known that he competed in a “dirty” sport where doping and drug use are prevalent. While I understand the competitive drive that pushes an athlete to compete at the highest levels I can understand that performance enhancing drugs are appealing, especially in a grueling event like the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong says he did drugs to “level the playing field” yet he was part of the problem in tilting the field in favor of athletes who artificially enhance their God given athletic abilities.
Was Lance wrong to do drugs? Yes he was. Did he lie to virtually everyone about taking drugs? Yes he did. Is he arrogant and self-righteous? Yes he is. Should he suffer some punishment for his actions? Yes he should.
However, there is one compelling reason to reconsider the Lance Armstrong situation. Due in part to Lance’s intense competitive drive, he not only overcame a serious bout with cancer, but he also started the Livestrong Foundation which has raised millions of dollars for cancer research. The Foundation has benefitted thousands of cancer patients across the country and any punishment for Lance Armstrong should be measured against the good he has done through the Foundation from which he has had to resign. Seems we always come back to money and the reality is that the Livestrong Foundation has raised a lot of it.
Lance Armstrong may be guilty of lying to his fans, his sponsors and the media. However, Lance Armstrong has also done a lot of good for a lot of people. So before you start “piling on” in the media frenzy to indict and convict Lance Armstrong, consider the other side of the story before making a final decision about how you feel about being lied to. It is a difficult situation but like all things in life, you have to place events in context to fully and effectively evaluate the situation.