This week Lance Armstrong said he made two really big mistakes in his life, and one of them has proved to be much more costly than the other.
One was doping, the other mistreating people.
The disgraced global sports icon was speaking on “Movember Radio” with CEO Adam Garone in a podcast published on Tuesday.
Armstrong, 44, talked about how attacking people during his cycling career proved to be a much more significant mistake than his actual doping.
(A variety of PEDs fuelled Armstrong’s record seven Tour de France victories, from 1999 to 2005, victories he was stripped of by the US Anti-Doping Agency in 2012 after a protracted, litigious battle.)
During the podcast Armstrong said he grew up “like a wild animal.”
He was also asked what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self.
He replied: “Understand that you may face some decisions in this sport, but, man, don’t ever isolate, attack, ostracize, incite another human being.”
Armstrong, who was raised by a single mother, added, “My mum and I had more of a brother-sister relationship … I never had that person that in my life — and I’m not making excuses — but nobody ever tapped me on the shoulder and said, Dude.
“I sort of raised myself. But nobody ever said, Dude, what I just saw. Never do that again. And so it is what it is. And I got to live with that and spend the rest of my life trying to make it right.”
On the surface, Armstrong’s musings are intriguing, but they seem to fly in the face of what some others are saying is much more the reality with Armstrong.
As recently as a month and a half ago, one of Armstrong’s former teammates and close friends, Frankie Andreu, told Business Insider that to this day Armstrong is still out to “wreck” him.
That revelation came to light recently after Armstrong testified that Andreu “doped for the majority of his career” and “that is absolutely the truth,” court documents showed.
Andreu, who has been trying to rebuild his life and career after his role in the Armstrong scandal, has publicly denied Armstrong’s allegations, telling Business Insider, “He just wants to bring me down. My testimony tells the truth. … It wasn’t until I was 29 when I took EPO, my last I year took nothing, and I retired at 33. That’s not a majority.
“Lance is always in attack mode … He is out to wreck me,” Andreu said.
Many critics have called Armstrong out for trying to “control the narrative,” seeming to say one thing and doing another, and never really coming off as truly contrite for his transgressions. In light of what the Andreus and others have to say about Armstrong’s real motives, his recent comments only serve to underscore those themes.
Armstrong declined to comment for this story.
He is being sued by the US government in a $100 million fraud case. He still owns multimillion-dollar properties in Austin, Texas, and Aspen, Colorado.
He recently told The Times that “If there was an equivalent to EPO today, everyone in cycling would be on it,” referring to erythropoietin, the drug of choice for cyclists in the sport’s dirty period during which Armstrong reigned.
Here are Armstrong’s full comments regarding his advice to his younger self:
There are really two big mistakes that I made, in most people’s minds, everybody’s mind, and that was the doping and the treatment of others. I think as time goes on, more and more people understand that the doping just was what it was. It really was completely pervasive. And you really didn’t have a choice — well, you did have a choice: Your choice was to go home, which nobody took that choice. Everybody geared up and stayed.
But all those people that made that first mistake, which now nobody cares about, none of them treated people like shit. None of them attacked another human being. None of them sued another human being. And I did all those things. So my words to an 18-year-old me would be, you know, Understand that you may face some decisions in this sport, but, man, don’t ever isolate, attack, ostracize, incite another human being. Because the doping isn’t — we’re not talking about this because I doped. We’re talking about all of this because of the way I treated other people. And that’s my mistake, and I own that. And I’ve spent the last three years trying to make amends with those people. And I mean the amends with the people that really got taken on. But the amends with the people I never even knew. I never attacked them. But these are people who — and again, it goes back to the most important word in all of this is ‘betrayal.’ So the people who have a tremendous sense of betrayal, that’s the walk I walk the rest of my life.
And I have to now do that just because of the attitude that I had. I didn’t have, for whatever reason, I never had that person that in my life — and I’m not making excuses — but nobody ever tapped me on the shoulder and said, Dude. Like, whenever my son or any of my kids start getting out of line, I stop them and say, What the f*** are you doing? Like, Calm down. Stop. Don’t ever do that again. I grew up just sort as a — like a wild animal. My mum and I had more of a brother-sister relationship, and we sort of raised each other, therefore I sort of raised myself. But nobody ever said, Dude, what I just saw. Never do that again. And so it is what it is. And I got to live with that and spend the rest of my life trying to make it right.
You can listen to the full podcast below (the conversation about giving advice to his younger self starts about 36:00):
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