Controlling the Narrative

News & Results

11/19/2013| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
With a documentary out and a couple of damning books on the shelf, Lance Armstrong has done what he's good at – going on the offensive Fotoreporter Sirotti

Controlling the Narrative

Lance Armstrong has launched a kinder, nicer offensive.

With a documentary out and a couple of damning books on the shelf, Lance Armstrong has done what he's good at – going on the offensive.

I don't mean like the “good old days” in the early 2000s when he would intimidate his opponents with lawsuits, spreading lies about them, or doing his best to make sure they couldn't earn a living riding a bike. No – this Armstrong Version 2.0 is a gentler, kinder model – but just as manipulative.

“The Wheelman – Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever” can be summarized as such: Armstrong was an asshole and he surrounded himself with assholes, chamois sniffers, and enablers. However, the lie was too big and it was always a matter of time before he pissed off the wrong person with nothing to lose. The end.

The Armstrong Lie documentary is in theaters and doesn't paint a good picture of the disgraced pro either. With more lawsuits piling up it was time for him to break radio silence.

He did an interview on CyclingNews that came with restrictions: no video and no details which he claims he will share with WADA, the UCI, or a Truth and Reconciliation process at a later date. While the interviewer was able to ask questions, Armstrong, once again, set the terms and used it to his advantage.

This is not to say that the interview portrays Armstrong in a positive light, however, it does give him the opportunity to bang the “I wasn't the only one cheating” and “level playing field” gong over and over. Some journalists turned down overtures from the Armstrong camp for an interview because they saw it for what it was – an opportunity for Armstrong to try and control the narrative.

Controlling the narrative or “getting in front of the story” is one of the first things done in crisis management and that's where Armstrong lives. He can't wash away the fact he was a bully – he admits to that. Instead you try and shape it into something else and that's what he's doing.

Armstrong's next stop was with BBC's World Service's Newshour program. Basically another opportunity for him to state that cycling hasn't been served with an investigation going back 15 years. However, Lance forgets that there's strong biological evidence that he was using PEDS in his 2009 and 2010 Tour de France comeback. If you think those years were clean I got a bridge in New York I want to sell you.

Be assured Armstrong isn't going to walk into a Truth and Reconciliation meeting with a caseload of files and give up names for nothing. He has an end game in mind and that's to return to competition. Without some deal that allows him to start cycling or triathlon or whatever, he isn't going to give up squat. Armstrong is motivated by one thing and one thing only – self-preservation and how a situation can be used to his advantage. To think he's interested in cleaning up cycling for the sake


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