Friday, January 18, 2013

Lance Armstrong is a Liar and a Junkie!

Earlier this week I learned with everyone else that Lance Armstrong planned to sit down with Oprah Winfrey and admit to the world, that he did indeed use performance enhancement drugs while competing in the Tour de France. Initially, I felt a deep sense of disappointment, not for Lance the athlete, but for Lance the man behind the LIVESTRONG organization. The LIVESTRONG organization holds a special place in my heart because of their tireless work and dedication to raising awareness and funds towards cancer research. Initially, I planned to come to you all today in defense of Lance. Because in my mind, despite Lance's egregious acts, betrayal of his supporters and all athletes worldwide, I strangely felt that LIVESTRONG trumped all of that. However, I am now annoyed and somewhat torn on how I should feel about Lance Armstrong and his admitted drug use.



On Thursday evening for 90 minutes I subjected myself to the worst television interview, since  Whitney Houston's interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002. I know that our dear Whitney and her battle with addiction is still a touchy subject, but there is something to be said about the mind frame of an addict and their compulsion to relieve themselves of personal responsibility, at all costs. Very reminiscent to Whitney Houston in 2002, I watched Lance in his "interview of admission" not really be sorry for his actions. He did not come off as remorseful and was a bit smug about everything. Lance did not deliver a notable line like Whitney did in her interview  but he delivered the same attitude and logic that sort of says "yeah I did it, because I could, now what!"

Oprah came out the gate respectfully swinging and opened the interview by asking Lance to answer only yes or no, to a series of questions. 

Here is how the interview began:


Oprah Winfrey: Did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?

Lance Armstrong: "Yes."

Oprah Winfrey: Was one of those banned substances EPO?

Lance Armstrong: "Yes."

Oprah Winfrey: Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?

Lance Armstrong: "Yes."

Oprah Winfrey: Did you ever use any other banned substances such as testosterone, cortisone or Human Growth Hormone?

Lance Armstrong: "Yes."

Oprah Winfrey: In all seven of your Tour de France victories, did you ever take banned substances or blood dope?

Lance Armstrong: "Yes."

Oprah Winfrey: Was it humanly possible to win the Tour de France without doping, seven times?

Lance Armstrong: "Not in my opinion. that generation. I didn't invent the culture, but I didn't try to stop the culture."


After listening to Lance's response to the yes or no session, and observing his body language and overall tone, my thoughts on defending Lance changed somewhat. Oprah set up the bowling pins for Lance to strike them all down and I feel like he failed to do that. Especially with his last answer. The culture? Ah ha, so this is his strategy for this interview  - profess gilt and apologize but silently absolve myself from taking a true responsibility for my actions. After all, "the culture" (code for everyone else was doing it) is not my fault. Plus, it's not my fault that I was able to get away with it. Lance even referred to his cheating simply as "crossing the line."

So how did Lance dope up and why? My knowledge is limited, but here is what I understand. Lance admitted that his cocktail was EPO, Blood Doping, Testosterone and Cortisone. The biggie in this list is the EPO. So what exactly is that?

From About.com: 

Erythropoietin is a way of artifically boosting your Red Blood Cell count. Erythropoietin (EPO) is a naturally-occurring hormone, produced by the kidneys, that stimulates the production of red blood cells. This hormone can also be manufactured and injected into the skin or directly into the blood stream (intravenously). EPO may be used in medical practice to bring patient's RBC into normal levels.


Lance admitted that he used EPO throughout his cycling career until 2005. Prior to 2000 there was no testing for EPO, so Lance and many others skirted through without detection. It wasn't until his earlier pre- EPO testing era blood was later retested that he was caught. This is where I feel some of the arrogance comes in. Lance admits that he probably wouldn't have been able to win seven straight Tour de France titles. However, his answers and demeanor indicate to me that he probably feels like he should have won those titles because A) he was using an undetected substance to boost his performance and B) his status gave him the access to that drug to capture those wins. Ultimately it's not really his fault that A &B were in his favor. 

Honestly, the interview was long and draining. Lance is mad because he finally got caught. He still doesn't really believe he was caught, because the test that sealed his fate was retroactive. Lance sued any and everyone who ever made the accusation that he cheated and used banned substances. He ruined the lives of so many people. He even ruined their earning potential, all while he earned a great deal of money himself. 

Here are a few of my favorite exchanges from the interview that really demonstrate the core of Lance's character. 


Oprah: Did you feel in any way that you were cheating? You did not feel you were cheating taking banned drugs?
Lance: "At the time, no. I kept hearing I'm a drug cheat, I'm a cheat, I'm a cheater. I went in and just looked up the definition of cheat and the definition of cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe that they don't have. I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field."
Essentially, Lance is reiterating my thoughts above. It's not his fault that he has access and others didn't and it's not his fault that those with access made the choice not to dope.
Oprah: Many people feel the real tipping point was [former team-mate] Floyd Landis's decision to come forward and confess?
Lance: "My comeback didn't sit well with Floyd."
This is the equivalent of saying "oh that bastard was hating on me."



Oprah: So that was the tipping point. And your comeback was also a tipping point. Do you regret coming back?
Lance: "I do. We wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't come back."
Lance thinks that the reason he is in trouble is because he came back to the sport and got caught. further proof he has not accepted responsibility for his actions.

My conclusion is that Lance Armstrong is a Junkie and a Liar with no remorse for his action. He should not be given a pass. I hope that serious legal and financial consequences comes his way. Part II airs this evening, lets see if he can change our minds. 

Let me know what you think......

1) Do you care about Lance Armstrong's Doping Scandal?
2) Prior to this interview, did you believe Lance to be guilty or innocent?
3) What does this confession do to the integrity of sports?
4) What do you think should happen to Lance Armstrong?
5) The Department of Justice dropped this case last February, why do you think this happened?
6) Should Lance serve jail time for lying under oath? 
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