When I went to my Twitter account on Wednesday morning, I encountered a surprise. Someone who had read my column was unhappy with what I had written.
@davidlukeramsey thanks for the chat David. Have a good one.— Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) August 27, 2014
Just finished a 20-minute conversation with @lancearmstrong. He called. I give him credit for that.— david ramsey (@davidlukeramsey) August 27, 2014
@davidlukeramsey David, not angry at all just felt like the journalistically ethical thing 2 do would've been 2 give me a chance to respond— Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) August 27, 2014
In his Twitter message to me, @lancearmstrong wondered why he was not given a chance to respond. Now, I'm giving him his chance.— david ramsey (@davidlukeramsey) August 27, 2014
Wrote a column critical of @lancearmstrong Few minutes ago, got message from an unhappy Armstrong Gave him my number. We'll see if he calls.— david ramsey (@davidlukeramsey) August 27, 2014
That was not a surprise.
The unhappy reader was Lance Armstrong, the subject of my Wednesday column.
That was a surprise.
Armstrong wondered why he had not been contacted before the column ran. I immediately sent him my phone number, via Twitter, and told him he was welcome to respond to what I had written.
A couple hours later, I was outside washing my mountain bike. My phone rang, and I saw "restricted' on the screen.
I knew who was calling.
"Hello, David," came a voice from Aspen. "This is Lance Armstrong."
We talked for about 25 minutes. Armstrong said this was a "man-to-man conversation," not for public consumption. He did not have a problem with any of the facts in my column. He just wanted to comment, in private. I agreed with some of his points. And he agreed with some of mine. It was a surprisingly enjoyable and profitable give-and-take session.
I agreed to not reveal the details of our conversation, but Armstrong said he would be comfortable with me offering an outline.
He is extremely sorry for his mistakes. Yes, Armstrong can be defensive and he's quick to place himself beside other cheaters, but his regret is sincere. He realizes he betrayed millions of his fans, and this haunts him. I wondered about his sincerity before. I wonder no longer. One of Armstrong's troubles is he's not adept at apologizing or contrition. He's sorry, but he doesn't really know how to properly say he's sorry. He's contrite, but on his own terms. Lance Armstrong does virtually everything on his own terms. I've heard dozens of Armstrong critics complain about his manner of saying he's sorry. He is not going to change to please his critics.
Let there be no doubt about this:
Armstrong is a charismatic, fascinating, complicated, flawed man.