Does the world need a Lance Armstrong confession?

Lee Rodgers Columnist

By Lee Rodgers, Lee Rodgers is a Roar Expert

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    Lance Armstrong's legacy may be to rip world cycling apart as he continues to ignore doping allegations made by former US Postal teammates and staff (Image: AFP)

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    Former Lance Armstrong teammate and self-confessed doper Tyler Hamilton recently spoke of the sense of relief he felt when he finally began to tell the truth about his abuse of banned substances throughout his career.

    It was a long, drawn-out process which began with his parents and culminated in a very public confession in May 2011 on America’s 60 Minutes television program.

    Hamilton has since been vocal in his appeal for Armstrong to follow his own path and confess to using banned substances.

    “I do believe we will see some sort of truth come out from Lance Armstrong eventually,” Hamilton said in a recent interview.

    “I know it will do him a lot of good personally and it will do the sport of cycling a lot of good. We’re in a tough spot right now and with Armstrong coming clean we could put an end to this chapter and we could move forward.

    “The peloton today are suffering for our past and that’s not fair.”

    He might have added, “And the fans too.”

    Hamilton has been more or less in a minority of one in his belief that his former team leader would ever come clean – until this week that is, when a report emerged in the New York Times claiming that Armstrong was considering a full public confession and was seeking meetings with Travis Tygart of the US Anti Doping Agency (USADA) and David Howman, the director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

    Intriguingly, when contacted by the Times for a comment, Armstrong’s long-term lawyer, Tim Herman, said only, “Lance has to speak for himself on that.”

    He also denied his client was seeking talks with the USADA or WADA.

    Armstrong has been facing increasing pressure to confess, chiefly from the board of the Livestrong Foundation, which fears the continuing devaluing of Armstrong’s reputation is negatively affecting the foundation’s revenue.

    The article claims though that Armstrong’s motivation to confess is based on his desire to continue to compete in triathlon and other endurance events. The article states:

    “Armstrong has hopes of competing in triathlons and running events, but those competitions are often sanctioned by organisations that adhere to the World Anti-Doping Code, under which Armstrong received his lifetime ban.”

    Stacked up against a possible confession though are some very large numbers, which would run into the dozens of millions of dollars.

    The Texan is facing an $11 million civil suit from SCA Promotions after the company was forced to pay out a Tour de France winner’s bonus to him, as well as a $1.5 million case brought by the Sunday Times newspaper.

    A confession could bring out other disgruntled figures and even previous corporate sponsors, whose legal teams could present a very formidable challenge to Armstrong’s own.

    The question that arises here, however, is this: Do we need a confession from Lance Armstrong?

    I’m not so sure.

    According to the article, Armstrong’s motivation for confessing is not to apologise for the damage he did to the reputation of cycling nor to the people whose careers his denials and counter-accusations so negatively affected.

    The driving factor, as reported in the article, is his desire to be a competitive athlete once again – and, presumably, to be rewarded financially for that.

    Once tipped as a potential politician, that avenue now seems blocked to him (though his ability to obfuscate the facts would serve him well in politics, some may argue). Perhaps a career as a masters triathlete seems to him to be the best of the rest at this current moment in time.

    Some will argue that everyone deserves a second chance. I would normally agree. But unlike Hamilton, or Floyd Landis, or David Millar, who each doped, confessed and were allowed to move on, Armstrong’s professional life was tainted not only by cheating to win but by sustained and continuous attacks on those he deemed to be against him.

    In the cases of Fillipo Simeoni and Cristophe Bassons, Armstrong played a direct hand in having them shunned by the peloton and in the early curtailing of their cycling careers.

    In another, that of Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong’s former teammate Frankie Andreu, he called into question the mental state of Betsy after she accused him of using banned substances, and vilified Frankie, putting considerable strain on their marriage.

    The list goes on, and is depressingly long. It’s this aspect of the whole affair, as well as the continuous denials and the use of the Livestrong Foundation as a shield from which to hide behind, which would make any confession from Armstrong seem worthless.

    The Tour de France titles are gone. The records have been erased. The achievements, the battles, the slow-motion segments set to epic music are all fading to grey. The truth of the matter is there is no way back from the wilderness for the former grand champion.

    Confession or not, the majority just don’t want him back.

    Lee Rodgers
    Lee Rodgers

    Lee Rodgers is a former professional rider on the UCI Asia circuit. He is now a freelance journalist, cycling coach and runs the website www.crankpunk.com.

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    The Crowd Says (51)

    • Columnist

      January 7th 2013 @ 7:16am
      Jono Lovelock said | January 7th 2013 @ 7:16am | ! Report

      My (far fetched) theory;

      Lances ‘mates’ Hein, Pat, Tom Weisel etc, are all getting away with it whilst Lance takes the fall. He’s not getting looked after as he was hoping, so he’s firing a warning shot to all those that helped him and have now washed their hand of him; I’m taking you all down in one last blaze of glory.

      Popcorn time.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 10:09am
        Bobo said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:09am | ! Report

        He may be a vindictive little man, but self-preservation will trump all. I can only see him selling out Weisel and Hein if he gets no blowback.

        Weisel is the smart one in this whole affair: a real eminence grise.

        • January 15th 2013 @ 4:11pm
          sittingbison said | January 15th 2013 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

          now looks like he is throwing Weisel Hein and Pat under the bus Bobo. Can’t wait, because Weisel has the dirt on EVERYTHING going back to the 84 Olympics US cycle track team and will surely retaliate.

    • Roar Guru

      January 7th 2013 @ 8:27am
      Rabbitz said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      The problem for Armstrong, and cycling in general, is that the great unwashed just do not care if he confesses or not.

      The case has been decided, he was found out and now people just want him to go away.

      The rumours of confession reek of someone, who has lived in the spotlight for a long time and has lost the attention of the adoring crowds. He will do almost anything for one last big show.

      Think back to the image he released a little while ago – of him lounging in front of the Tour de France trophies. He knew it would get air time.

      This is exactly the same.

      It is sad, but the sooner he is forgotten, the better.

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2013 @ 8:25pm
        sheek said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:25pm | ! Report

        I’m with Rabbitz here.

        We humans are funny (weird) with our desire for people to confess their sins.

        What will Armstrong confess to?

        He knew precisely what he was doing & he would have continued doping if he never got caught.

        So the only thing Armstrong can be genuinely sorry about is “getting caught.”

        Damned rotten luck!

        It’s always the way. Tiger Woods was only sorry he got caught out & wasn’t able to continue leading his double, triple, quadruple life of champion golfer, solid family man, regular good guy & broad-buster extraordinaire.

        Please buy another set of golf clubs, another bag of golf balls, this razor, that aftershave, the car I’m presently flogging, this footwear, that something else, make a donation to the Tiger Woods Foundation & send half a dozen waitresses to my room.

        These kind of guys are only ever sorry they got caught out & can’t continue duping us out of our money (those silly enough to believe the fairy tale)……….

        • January 8th 2013 @ 7:47am
          Bob Anderson said | January 8th 2013 @ 7:47am | ! Report

          I’m normally pretty conservative on sex issues, but Tiger Woods didn’t do anything remotely comparable to Lance Armstrong. In fact, what he did was personal and unrelated to his golfing.

          Should he have lost some sponsors? Sure, I have no problem with that. Should he have been demonized the way he has been and continues to be just for some private sexual activity? No, absolutely not, it was really none of our business.

          I’m no Woods fan, never have been, even when it was “politically incorrect” not to be. I always criticized his childish antics on the course and his self-absorbed attitude off it, but to suggest extra marital affairs are any way parallel to the Lance Armstrong scandal is ludicrous.

          • January 10th 2013 @ 6:41pm
            polly said | January 10th 2013 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

            Agreed, most whole-heartedly. Woods never co-erced others to join him, never bullied those that didn’t, never instigated legal proceedings winning huge payouts to prove he was faithful to his wife etc etc.
            Most significantly, Woods has never cheated at golf to become the champion player he is.

      • January 10th 2013 @ 6:37pm
        polly said | January 10th 2013 @ 6:37pm | ! Report

        The great unwashed may just want him to go away but the companies he took money from via lawsuits etc certainly don’t. This will stop him from any confession in my opinion, he may want to be a pro triathlete but he’ll never win enough prize money to cover the cost of re-gaining admittance to the competitions.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 9:33am
      Riddos said | January 7th 2013 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      If he could do one thing for the sport he made millions rorting it would be to just go away. Can’t see it happening though.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 10:57am
        B.A Sports said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:57am | ! Report

        I think you will find he is trying to make one last million by giving a media outlet an exclusive deal.

        This little leak is just his way of getting the media outlets to come knocking at his door and start bidding.

        • January 10th 2013 @ 7:29pm
          polly said | January 10th 2013 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

          Nice theory, can see Oprah paying him a lot of money for the exclusive interview, just after a little bit of titilation of a confession for a few days in the media.
          I still think the way the USADA ‘arbitration’ etc was handled was dodgy but all in all, if it was me I would be most likely martyring myself to prove I was truly innocent if I was in his shoes, the guy just seems too cool & calculating in my opinion. I’ll defend his right to due process & a proper legal trial as opposed what I consider to be the kangaroo court of the USADA but Oprah is not a lawyer & her show is not a court-room, so obviously Armstrong is more interested in public relations than any pursuit of justice.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 11:35am
        nickoldschool said | January 7th 2013 @ 11:35am | ! Report

        Agree riddos. The bloke has done so much damage to the sport that no confession nor apology would change what many think of him now. He has had many occasions to come clean but chose to dig deeper the hole he was in.

        I don’t recall having despised a sportsman more than this guy. To think that he looks at himself in the mirror everyday, talk to his wife, kids, friends, family etc in the circumstances that we know remains an enigma to me. I really question his sanity.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 9:42am
      Sarah said | January 7th 2013 @ 9:42am | ! Report

      Tyler Hamilton is parading himself around as some kind of patron saint of cycling, who saw the error of his ways so came forward to confess, apologise blah blah blah, and the media is selling every bit of that. Tyler Hamilton is a cheat, and he would’ve continued cheating had he not been caught so many times. He didn’t confess because he thought he’d done wrong, he confessed because he got caught! So it’s time he himself disappears and stops cashing in on Lance Armstrong’s name!

      • January 7th 2013 @ 10:06am
        Bobo said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        “parading himself around as some kind of patron saint of cycling, who saw the error of his ways so came forward to confess, apologise blah blah blah, and the media is selling every bit of that…”

        I think you’re getting him confused with David Millar…

        Jokes aside, Hamilton has been scrupulous to avoid criticising Armstrong for his personal choices, while acknowledging at all times the culpability of his generation for damaging cycling. He makes it pretty clear that he didn’t have a Damascene conversion until he was sat in front of prosecutors and then the Grand Jury.

        I personally doubt that Armstrong will confess, because if he does he will walk right into a perjury conviction for his previous statements given under oath. He’s no Isaac Newton, but Armstrong is not stupid. In addition, any self-respecting narcissist (!) would need a pretty good reason to get down on his knees and say mea culpa maxima. I can’t see Armstrong throwing himself throwing himself at the mercy of his detractors.

        • January 7th 2013 @ 10:51am
          Sarah said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          I agree, it’s extremely unlikely that Armstrong will confess. Legally, he would be crazy to say anything considering at this point he can say he never tested positive and never confessed. Surely this gives him some kind of loophole when it comes to the lawsuits coming his way, as well as a possible conviction for perjury. If I were him, I wouldn’t say anything.

          Personally, I would like all of them to stop talking about it and move on. Everyone involved has said their bit, so lets move on. At this point, they’re just flogging a dead horse.

          • January 7th 2013 @ 2:44pm
            Bobo said | January 7th 2013 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

            They can’t stop talking about it when there’s so much that hasn’t yet been made public. The horse isn’t dead yet. Armstrong is just the tip of the iceberg.

      • January 8th 2013 @ 1:08pm
        Tom said | January 8th 2013 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

        I think you are being a little harsh on Hamilton. No one is claiming him to be a saint, but I think the exposure he is getting is more down to the fact that media outlets look for sound bites, and he is willing to speak openly on the issue and has inside knowledge of it, hence, he is often approached for comment. I would also say that I think you are underestimating the pervasiveness of the omerta surrounding doping in the peloton (and other sports as well) – witness what Armstrong did to Christophe Bassons, Frankie Andreu et al when they dared to speak out. Also witness the failure of many other convicted dopers to come out against the practice following their convictions.

        A guy like Shane Warne came out with the risible ‘my mum gave it to me’ defence, Richard Gasquet got off a cocaine positive (admittedly not really performance enhancing) by claiming he was kissing a girl in a Miami club who had some in her mouth, whilst I also recall an Olympic kayaker claiming his orange juice was spiked. I would much rather a full confession a la Hamilton or Millar than that sort of nonsense.

        • January 8th 2013 @ 4:42pm
          sittingbison said | January 8th 2013 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

          I have no doubt whatsoever Warnies mum gave him the slimming tablet so he would look good for the team photo. Proof of pudding is in the eating…look at him now %)

    • January 7th 2013 @ 11:06am
      Bondy. said | January 7th 2013 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      He’s grappling with the demons isnt he,its probably confess or go and get the keys and 14 yards of garden hose and off to the garage. He’ll confess by February.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 12:52pm
      Jose Cruz said | January 7th 2013 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

      I’m glad to hear it reported that LiveSTRONG has been pressuring him to come clean. I was hoping at least they would be able to keep a voice of sanity in his ear. It sure didn’t seem like that at first this past October, but hey we all need to warm to hard to swallow ideas.

      No matter what tho’ , not that I think he ever will confess, but if he does, I don’t think he deserves to come back to professional (or maybe even amateur) sports competitions. If he gets that in return for a confession. The confession wouldn’t be worth it. It would be a totally mixed signal to kids don’t you think?

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