We’ve all known liars. We’ve all loved liars. We’ve all been asked to forgive liars.
This close contact with lying explains why Lance Armstrong’s blunt confession session with Oprah carried such power Thursday night.
We’ve all suffered at the hands of liars.
And now it’s time for one of the champions of lying to suffer.
Armstrong’s story had long resembled a myth, so jammed with twists and turns and drama that it could not possibly be all true. It now transforms into a parable, a tale that reveals the perils of pursuing victory and fame at all costs.
He defeated cancer, and then conquered the world. He won seven Tour De France titles. He became a folk hero, even as whispers chased him. The whispers kept growing louder. He had cheated his way to supremacy.
The whispers were true. Armstrong once seemed ready to join Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Jesse Owens, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, John Elway and a very few others atop the list of America’s greatest sports heroes.
That’s all gone. He will be remembered as a cheater, a bully and, to paraphrase his description, an “arrogant” reproductive organ.
Armstrong seeks forgiveness, and I’m happy to offer it. But he surely must realize he’s forever lost our admiration.
I’d like to nominate a new hero for the Armstrong saga. Travis Tygart, who lives in Rockrimmon, refused to surrender to Armstrong’s intimidation.
As late as October, Armstrong was insisting on his innocence while shouting he was a victim of a “witch hunt.” This made no sense to me. Why would Armstrong refer to himself as a witch?
Tygart, the head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, continued his crusade to bring Armstrong to justice. Yes, Tygart was relentless. You must be relentless to defeat a determined, wealthy liar.
This is Tygart’s, and USADA’s, day of triumph. Good job, Travis, and thanks for all the diligent, righteous labor. The wicked witch is dead.
I was impressed with Oprah’s performance. She was tough. She was prepared. She pushed Armstrong, but never veered into rude aggression.
This was a wise approach. Armstrong remains compelling, a complex character filled with ruthlessness and goodness. For years, he sought to devour anyone who dared oppose him. The liar thrived on calling others – who were telling the truth – liars.
But this corrupt tiger spent hours in hospital rooms, offering kindness and hope to girls and boys, women and men struggling to defeat cancer.
He’s a contradictory, fascinating man. It’s almost as if Richard Nixon, our most tortured president, had decided to climb on a bicycle.
While watching Oprah question Armstrong, I again wondered how cycling’s ultimate winner/liar managed to ride so high for so long.
The answer has something to do with Armstrong’s ability to exploit a troubling American trait. Millions of Americans believed in Armstrong because we adore winners. If European voices questioned Armstrong’s honesty, that just meant those voices were motivated by jealousy and anti-Americanism.
Winners can get away with virtually anything in our country. The evidence has long been there that Armstrong had cheated his way to the top of his sport.
Many of Armstrong’s blind followers refused to believe this mountain of evidence. They must believe now. They have no choice.
On Thursday night, with Oprah staring deeply into his eyes, the liar came clean.