Non-cycling friends and relatives have been cautiously asking what I think about Lance Armstrong for a while now. I’d been rooting for him ever since I saw him and Frankie Andreu race in the streets of Lancaster, PA around the time he was making his comeback from cancer. I think we’re talking about fifteen years ago. So 2012 was a pretty disappointing year. And here’s what I think
Only in historical context will we know how to judge what he said.
From what we learned in 2012, Armstrong makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like Nelson Mandela on a good day.
I have three things to say. First of all, I think Armstrong has lost any right to expect others to care about what he wants. For example, I don’t want to see his lifetime ban lifted, even if the super-duper competitor in him yearns to run the NYC Marathon on his 50th birthday. He doesn’t deserve to be let back on the playround.
Second, I’m perfectly OK if he is forced to scrape by on only a fraction of his estimate net worth of $125 million once all the lawsuits are settled. Lance’s outsized financial woes are a joke to me: How to amass a small fortune? Start with a large one. No tears for Lance here.
Third, the only thing that could rehabilitate him in my eyes is going to extraordinary lengths to repair the damage he’s done to people like Mike Anderson, Betsy and Frankie Andreu, and Emma O’Reilly. Once close to Lance, they were horribly mistreated for nothing more than being honest. And they weren’t the only such victims of Armstrong’s ruthlessness.
Armstrong said, “I will spend the rest of my life apologizing.” If he truly gets how bad he made things for his victims, he’ll not only spend time and resources humbly apologizing to every last one of these people at length, but will demonstrate his sincerity by trying to make it up to them in some concrete way.
Will he pull off a genuine turnaround? I believe people can change. But all we can do is wait and see.