A Tale of Redemption
Lance Armstrong is interviewed by Oprah. Will it be the whole truth and nothing but?
“Yeah everyone was doping so what’s the big deal.” And move on. Time will pass and Armstrong will continue to bleed millions of dollars ranging from lawyers’ fees to the loss of endorsement deals. But that’s the short term. At this point in the game Armstrong and his advisors are looking long term.
USA Today reported the discredited rider has reached out to his arch nemesis Floyd Landis asking for forgiveness. I can say that didn’t happen. And really what sense does that make? “Hey Floyd sorry about calling you a liar, crazy, and generally making your life miserable. Here’s a fruit basket.” I’m guessing Landis will take a written apology in the memo section of a check accompanied by a number and several zeros behind it.
Landis has been reported to be part of a whistle blower suit that could net him millions of dollars. However, Landis hasn’t commented one way or another on whether he’s part of any suit.
Long term the Oprah interview will be Lance’s path back to a “normal life.” He’ll have a book written about his experiences and soon he’ll sit down with Matt Lauer of the Today Show. There will be speaking engagements and if he gets his lifetime ban reduced to just years, you’ll see him in a Speedo at the Ironman. Sponsors will clamor to have him use their equipment or have a logo plastered onto a jersey. That’s just the way business works. Bottom line is if a specific person can push their product they’ll sponsor that person no matter what. The sporting world is filled with examples – one of the more egregious being Michael Vick. Upon his return to professional football Vicks was again part of the Nike family.
So post-Oprah show where does this leave us? That pound of flesh that Armstrong owes to Betsy Andreu, Emma O’Reilly, David Walsh, Paul Kimmage, and numerous others will not come. We need to accept that fact. I don’t even think we’ll get one crocodile tear from the guy. Oprah will be a soft touch for the disgraced rider and if history has shown anything her questioning of athletes (case in point, her interview with Marion Jones) is light and just an opportunity for redemption for the athletes and increased profits for her.
This may seem like a “win” for Armstrong, but look at what it has cost him: millions of dollars lost, personal image in the can, and he can’t even compete with the real athletes. Those who Armstrong ruined or tried to ruin can instead say something he’ll never be able to say: “I told the truth and have my dignity.” It’s a cliché, but no matter how much money he is able to make from book writing, speaking engagements and sponsorships, Armstrong will never regain his dignity. Ever.