So I’m reading that Lance Armstrong not only confessed to doping to Oprah, but is offering to rat out his accomplices as step one on his “road to redemption.” In one of his signature off-the-charts rants, Buzz Bissinger is calling Armstrong, whom he defended almost to the bitter end, “an immoral, manipulative liar who doesn’t deserve a second more of anybody’s time.”
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.
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.
The fact that Armstrong availed himself of battalions of doctors and boatloads of drugs when he was battling cancer didn’t take away from his victory over the disease in anyone’s eyes. So why wouldn’t he use the chemical tools that virtually all of his competitors were also using when he raced, just to level the playing field if not to give himself an edge?
No one has suggested stripping Faulkner of his Nobel Prize because he wrote his longest, most convoluted sentences under the influence of alcohol, or…
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