There is no denying that Oprah Winfrey’s interview on her OWN network with Lance Armstrong was riveting, not just for sports fans but anyone who is a student of human nature. The fascinating thing was not Armstrong’s supposed “mea culpa” but the rather unemotional nature in which it was delivered. I started thinking that if Armstrong had been Scrooge that those three spirits would have never convinced him to stop saying “Humbug!” Some people tend to be humble and others get emotional during such an opportunity, but Armstrong seemed to be holding onto his own myth like a fisherman who had a 500-pound tuna on the line – one that he knew would get away.
Lance Armstrong’s one emotional moment was when he talked about his thirteen year old son Luke, who kept defending his father by saying, “What you’re saying about my dad is not true.” Armstrong claims this is when he had to tell Luke the truth. Of course, the “truth” has been the center of Armstrong’s problems all along. It has been his version of the truth as opposed to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s version, which clearly named Armstrong as an integral part of a doping scheme.
For a long time the people at USADA and anyone else who dared to point a finger at Armstrong were called liars. They were out to get him. Everyone was out to get him. Of course, I wanted to believe Armstrong’s truth; so many of us did. We bought his story hook, line, and sinker. We all love the tale of the comeback, and Armstrong beat the odds against testicular cancer and then went on to triumph in one of the most grueling sporting events in the world: the Tour de France. He didn’t just win one – he won seven straight titles. This wasn’t just a great story; it transcended sports and became myth, and Armstrong became an iconic American hero.
Unfortunately, just like in most myths, the heroes are too good to be true. In some cases they may be demigods, but Armstrong was just an ordinary human who rose to extraordinary heights. He beat cancer; he beat his opponents on tour, and he would not let them ruin him. He fought back against the lies told against him. He sued people and tried to ruin them in return. It got into really ugly and vicious territory.