Alternate Title: I Already Drank the Haterade
Alternate Alternate Title: Maybe it Should Have Been About the Bike
Seems that Lance Armstrong is all over the news these days, and with his Oprah interview airing later this week, Armstrong Saturation is likely to reach maximum levels. Word on the street is that the Tour de France Major Winner Extreme is going to come clean about his dirty doping dealings, and I’ve got a thing or two to say about it.
In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Armstrong and I went to the same high school, though not at the same time. (He’s old and I’m less old.) I never knew him or met him, and our school never touted the fact that he had been there.
The summer before I started college, my university required all incoming Freshman to read Lance’s autobiography “It’s Not About The Bike.” So I did. I didn’t like it. In part because he takes an entire chapter to bash Plano East Senior High, our previously mentioned shared institution of learning.
He describes the town as “soul-deadening.” Lance felt like an outsider saying, “I felt shunned at times. I was the guy who did weird sports and who didn’t wear the right labels…There was an unwritten dress code.” Maybe I’m wrong on this, but isn’t that all high schools? “Cool” kids dress one way and other kids don’t. Anything you do that is different makes you weird. I played volleyball, which was not cool either. It did not deaden my soul. It was suburbia; I’m not sure what he was expecting.
Part of his hatred toward PESH and Plano in general is that the school wouldn’t let him graduate when he had missed too many days off doing cycling stuff and refused to make up the school work. His mom pulled him out and put him into a private school where he graduated from a few weeks later. I have no sympathy here. Regardless of how talented you are or how many activities you have going on, when you attend public school, you don’t get to say how much work you complete or how often you attend. He comes off as entitled saying that the teacher didn’t understand his goals and that he thought he should have earned extra credit for the world travel and cycling he was doing. “You’d think a school would be proud to have an Olympic prospect in its graduation rolls. But they didn’t care.”
Okay, now that the past is out on the table and you know that Lance isn’t my favorite guy to begin with, let’s discuss the matter at hand: doping it up to get ahead.
From when I first heard the allegations, I thought Lance was guilty. (I’ve already admitted I drank the haterade, so that’s probably not a surprise.) He never tested positive and he vehemently and repeatedly denied the allegations. He called his accusers liars and worse.
Now Lance is ready to come clean. He supposedly already said that he did it and that it was, “a level-playing field.” More entitlement if you ask me. Admitting something while saying, “but everyone was doing it to,” is not the same thing as an apology. It also makes him come off as though he believes he is still better/faster/whatever than the people he beat. But since the titles have been taken away, that’s a moot point.
If Lance had admitted the truth at any point, even after years of denial, I would have admired that. It’s not easy to admit your wrong doing, and it would have been brave of him. But instead he chose to wait until the investigations were over and he had smeared the people who were telling the truth to come clean on his own terms. Kind of like how he wanted to graduate high school on his own terms.
It comes down to integrity. Lance has shown that he doesn’t have it. He cheated, he knowingly lied for many years, he blamed others for trying to prove his guilt.
That does not a role model make. I know he’s done a lot with Livestrong, and that he has given people hope. (Karen actually wrote a great post about that very thing here.) But when I look at Lance, I don’t see that. I see someone who could have been great but felt entitled. Someone who could have followed the rules, but felt justified in doing as he pleased. Someone who could have been a role model, but lacked integrity.
What happens next? I don’t want his head on a platter, but whatever the reasonable consequences are, he should face them. If that includes a ban from sports, so be it. Some might think that’s too harsh, but there are equivalents in other career fields. (If I were to commit certain offenses, my teaching certificate would be taken away and I wouldn’t be able to work in that field any more. I know this and I choose to act accordingly. Lance also knew the possible consequences and chose to act the way he did.
I don’t think any of this will tarnish Livestrong or the sport of cycling. I don’t even know that it will tarnish Lance’s reputation in the long run. But to me, he’s not a role model, he’s not a winner, he’s not a good person. He’s a liar.
Okay, I’m stepping off my soapbox now. I really want to hear what y’all think about this! Is Lance a-ok in your book? Are you drinking the haterade like me? Do you think I’m way too biased for my opinion to be worth squat? Do tell!*