Lance Armstrong, the Modern Prometheus
Normally I have less than zero interest in sports or sports celebrities, but the fall of an icon like Mark McGwire (whose signature was on my younger son's baseball bat when he was in Little League) or Lance Armstrong , whose as-told-to memoir It's Not About the Bike so inspired my colleagues at Book-of-the-Month Club a decade-plus ago, does give me pause.
Whatever he says, subtract by a thousand, divide by two, then three, then multiply the whole sum of bullshit by zero. Don't believe a word he says, because not a word he says can be believed. When he looks at Winfrey with the doleful eyes of contrived contrition (carefully coached, because this is the biggest role of his life) and says I did it (he will apparently admit to limited blood doping), know that he did ten times more. When he says he didn’t do it, which I imagine he will do when it comes to threatening other teammates, know that Armstrong is just continuing his lies. Or is playing the semantic game of what coercion is (“Listen, dude, it’s not really coercion when you ask a teammate to blood-dope. I never told them they had to do it. I would have kicked their fucking ass off the team, dude, but they still didn’t have to do it. That’s on them, dude. Not me.”).Last summer I compared Armstrong to Frankenstein's monster, in a blog post that a lot of readers wrongly thought was meant to defend both him and the practice of doping. Just to make myself perfectly clear, I think he's something of a sociopath--but also a kind of touchstone for our celebrity-driven, winner-take-all culture. In honor of his second act, I am re-posting my piece in a slightly edited version.