It wasn’t about the bike
“I view this situation as one big lie.”
“It’s just this mythic perfect story and that just wasn’t true.” It just wasn’t true. After a decade of denials and threats to critics, Lance Armstrong has confessed, in a lengthy interview with Oprah Winfrey.
In 2000, Armstrong - off the back of Tour De France victory - penned the book, It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life, co-authored by a US journalist.
The book said:
“I read that I flew up the mountains of France. But you don’t fly up a mountain, you struggle slowly and painfully, and maybe, just maybe, you get to the top ahead of everybody else.”
Actually, you get to the top ahead of everybody else when you’ve blood doped. When you’ve taken EPO. Also cortisone, Human Growth Hormone and testosterone. He confessed to using all of these. The latter of which he said in the interview he had bizarrely attempted to justify to himself, with the excuse that having lost a testicle to cancer, “surely I’m running low”.
He was doped up in each of his seven victorious Tours. But that wasn’t his real crime.
That was the hero myth he built up around himself. With his book, with his victories, with his cancer story, even with his charity.
With his bullying. His relentless pursuit of his critics, and whistleblowers, who even came close to revealing the truth. Journalists, like The Sunday Times’ David Walsh, who have been vindicated after 13 years of doubt.
So many of us bought into the myth.
The myth that kept so many of us going back and following his progress after midnight on SBS.
The myth that got us tuning into Le Tour in the early hours of the morning to watch Lance and hear Phil Liggett’s commentary. He seemed so bloody heroic when he cut through that field in 2003 after he’d been forced off the track by a crash.
In the interview, Armstrong apologised to those he had hurt.
But why should any of us believe him now?
More on Armstrong: Cyclopath - Does Lance need help?
Even while confessing, he said he probably wouldn’t be sitting down and talking about the deception if he hadn’t tried to come back to cycling in 2009.
No one flies up mountains. It would have been better for those of us who grew up with Armstrong as a hero to have idolised somebody with the capacity to tell the truth. A real mark of a hero.
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