Lance Armstrong, once so inspiring for overcoming cancer and winning seven grueling Tour de France bike races, has now become the poster boy for greed, corruption and excess. He’s a fitting symbol for the times.
The former professional cyclist went on Oprah and confessed all, as most down-fallen celebrities do.
He’s obviously hoping his interview will mark the beginning of a comeback. Already, some are trying to mitigate what he did by claiming everyone on the tour was doping. But Armstrong’s actions are insidious for other reasons.
It’s bad enough that he was taking a full cocktail of illegal substances to enhance his performance.
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What really makes his behavior disgusting is they way he lied and bullied fellow teammates, race officials and anyone who doubted him to keep his secret.
Like Nixon in Watergate, the burglary was third rate, but the cover-up was a high crime. And Armstrong’s defense is just as odious. “I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop it. I didn’t have access to anything else that nobody else did,” he claimed.
For the record, he said he was taking EPO, a hormone that induces red blood cell production, getting blood transfusions and injecting himself with other drugs, including cortisone and testosterone.
Armstrong also revealed how he was able to to avoid detection of the illegal substances when he underwent a battery of tests while racing. During the late ’90s and early 2000s, he said was tested on race days when he was clean, and he was never tested for EPO.
Armstrong hinted that plenty of others were doing the same, but stopped short of calling doping widespread.
Even more disturbing Armstrong is still in denial. He refused to call himself a cheater. “I looked up the definition of cheater, and it implies that you are against a rival or foe,” he said “I didn’t do that. I used it as a level playing field.”
Sad. But not surprising. Armstrong is a fitting symbol for an era when the Bush administration could launch an illegal war in Iraq, and Wall Street greed could tigger the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression.
But here’s the saddest part of all. Armstrong will likely become a bigger celebrity than ever. He’s been humiliated, stripped of his titles and has had to forfeit some of his ill-gotten gains, but after confessing on Oprah, he’s got nowhere to go but up.
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