DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – What’s next, Lance Armstrong never even had cancer?
After his admission of using performance-enhancing drugs to Oprah Winfrey on Monday after a decade of arrogant, aggressive denials, the world’s largest fall from grace is complete and the biggest sports fraud of our lifetime is crowned.
Armstrong, once an iconic champion on the bike and an unprecedented inspiration in the international cancer community, has now confessed to being no more authentic than Joe Paterno, Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods, Rosie Ruiz, Milli Vanilli or the Sham-Wow.
I realize lots of folks – especially the French media – reached the conclusion long ago that Lance was just another drug peddler in the dirty sport of cycling. But I was one of his last defenders. Not anymore. For years I was stubborn, naive, gullible. Today I am merely duped. And depressed.
I raced against and, of course, well behind Armstrong in the old President’s Health Club Triathlon at Lake Lavon in the late ‘80s. I was friendly with his mother, Linda. He was a Texan who attended Plano East High School and bought his first two-wheeler from the Richardson Bike Mart. I considered him a beacon of hope in a world that at times feels cold and cruel and, well, hopeless. Armstrong was the once-in-a-lifetime hero and the one-in-a-million role model. I bought 100 Livestrong bracelets and made my 9-year-old basketball and soccer teams wear them, using it as motivation to never give up, even in the face of devastating odds.
He was, for crying out loud, Lance Legstrong. He effortlessly made mountains in to molehills. He was Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsmen of the Year” and the Associated Press’ “Athlete of the Year.”
He was the shit. Turns out, he was merely on the shit.
In ’96 Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer that eventually spread to his lungs and brain. At one point his doctors gave him a 40 percent chance of survival, and predicted he’d never compete at anything more strenuous than dominos. Three years later he won the world’s toughest and most prestigious bike race, the Tour de France. Then he won it six more times.
Little did we know his secret wasn’t determination, but more like moose semen injected between his toes and a series of synchronized, sinister blood transfusions.
Armstrong’s implosion transcends sports. I had never watched a cycling race before I’d heard of him, and I haven’t watched one since he retired. Through his Austin-based Livestrong Foundation, he raised almost $500 million for cancer awareness and treatment. That money certainly saved lives and weakened a disease, but it was all raised through false pretenses.
Armstrong, is not who we thought he was.
In the end he dominated, denied, bullied, denied some more, disappeared and, finally, begged for forgiveness. Sorry, we’re no longer buying anything Lance says. Or does. The fact that he’s attempting his mea culpa via Oprah makes it all the more nauseating. This colossal confession should come in a press conference, with no questions barred. Yes, even those from the French media. If not that, at least save an ounce of credibility by sitting at Charlie Rose’s table rather than on Oprah’s tear-stained couch.
Worst part of Lance’s lie? The way he so combatively attacked his accusers, leaving them strewn to the side like empty water bottles on the way up the Pyrenees. He not only cheated, but he tried to devour those who called him a cheater. He attempted to shred individual careers and he took companies like the London-based Sunday Times to court for libel. He had me convinced that, for once, everyone was wrong and one guy was right.
Today Armstrong’s achievements are diminished. His legacy destroyed. His reputation cemented.
Lance cheated death, and everything else that stood in his way.
After he’s been this dirty for this long, there’s just no possibly way to come clean.
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