Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Lance Armstrong is considering finally admitting that he doped, Juliet Macur of the New York Times reports.According to Macur, Armstrong “has told associates and antidoping officials that he is considering publicly admitting that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his cycling career.”
The motivation for this confession, according to Macur?
Armstrong wants to compete in organised sports again.
And Lance Armstrong is reportedly hoping that, if he finally comes clean, the anti-doping agencies will lift his lifetime ban.
It’s easy to understand why Lance Armstrong would want to compete in organised sports again: He’s an extraordinary athlete and competing is what he does best. And it’s possible that Armstrong’s conversations with the doping agencies are just part of a broader legal strategy to get agreements from every entity that might come after Armstrong in advance of an Armstrong confession.
But from a broader perspective–a moral perspective–this might be called “putting the cart before the horse.”
Because there’s a lot more riding on a Lance Armstrong doping confession than whether Lance Armstrong can compete in organised sports again.
Specifically, there’s Armstrong’s future public reputation.
And his financial fortune.
And the careers and reputations of the many, many people that Armstrong lied about, insulted, attacked, and destroyed over the years while protecting his own fortune and reputation by lying about racing clean.
And then there is just the simple, moral “doing the right thing,” which–after more than a decade very publicly doing the wrong thing, again and again–Armstrong might want to consider doing, assuming that doing the right thing is something that is even remotely important to him.
In other words, there is something more important in a Lance Armstrong confession than competing in organised sports will ever be:
The beginning, possibly, of redemption.
Because, don’t forget, this confession would come after a decade of explicit, angry, and vicious denials, in which Armstrong and his lawyers attacked many former teammates, colleagues, and friends who helped him achieve all of his victories and then did nothing more than tell the truth.
It would come after Armstrong received tens of millions of dollars in prize money, sponsorships, legal settlements, and other compensation that depended on his telling the truth about having raced clean.
And it would come after a decade in which millions of Armstrong fans wanted to believe him and gave him the benefit of the doubt despite an ever-increasing mountain of evidence that he was lying…only to be made to feel like fools in the end.
If Lance Armstrong wants to start righting wrongs–and if he wants people to believe that he’s righting them because he actually cares about righting them–Armstrong might want to focus on those things first and worry about “competing” later.
In other words, Armstrong might want to start with one simple concept:
Telling the truth.
Telling the truth not because doing so will allow Lance Armstrong “to compete again” or serve some other goal that is all about Lance Armstrong, but because telling the truth is just the right thing to do.
And then, once he tells the truth, completely and humbly, Lance Armstrong could begin to apologise to all of the people he attacked, lied about, and tried to destroy over the years.
Then he can start settling some of the lawsuits that have and will be brought against him now that it has been conclusively determined that he did, in fact, dope.
(Combining the mountain of highly persuasive evidence the USADA brought against Armstrong, with Armstrong’s decision not to defend himself, and, now, reports that Armstrong is considering finally confessing, makes any other conclusion seems impossible).
Then he might write a book in which he tells his full story, honestly, and gives the proceeds to his charity.
Then he might devote his amazing work ethic, discipline, and ability to inspire people to telling this story all over the world–with the same inspiring commitment that he demonstrated when he was still the king of the world.
And then, after that, perhaps, if he still wants to, Lance Armstrong can go to the world anti-doping agencies and ask them if they might consider letting him compete in organised sports again.
Because if he puts the last goal first, which he already appears to be doing, everyone looking in from the outside will be forced to conclude what they have already been forced to conclude over the past several years:
That there’s only one thing that Lance Armstrong cares about–and that’s Lance Armstrong.
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