Lance Armstrong doesn’t want the world to feel sorry for him.
We won’t. It is impossible to have sympathy for someone who wantonly deceived the sporting public, viciously attacked friends and cheated us all.
Armstrong’s legacy should have been a celebration of superhuman achievement – seven victories in one of the toughest pursuits on the planet.
But now we will remember the 41-year-old as one of the coldest individuals to walk the earth.
Armstrong’s confession to Oprah Winfrey was compelling, not just for the detail of the cyclist’s rampant doping but by the icy attitude the Texan showed during his years of lies and the similar approach to his revelations.
There was little emotion from Armstrong in his riveting interview today. Winfrey, not renowned as a tough interviewer, did an outstanding job trying to get inside the man behind the controversy.
And while Armstrong said words like regret, remorse and hurt, his body language and facial expressions provided the best evidence of how he was able to dupe the sport for so long.
This is one callous individual. There was almost the air of a sociopath dispassionately detailing his crimes.
Armstrong was prepared to win at any cost. It didn’t matter if the manner in which he did so was wrong. Anyone who dared challenge or accuse him became a target. He threatened, legally and professionally, those that crossed him – even if they were indeed correct.
He regularly referred to himself in the interview as a fighter. There was the tough childhood – he refuses to talk to his father who split from his mother when he was a toddler. He is so compromised even his surname was changed from Gunderson after his mother remarried.
Then there was the battle of testicular cancer that almost claimed his life.
And the war against the world continued when he got back in the saddle. It didn’t matter what had to be done in the quest for success. To borrow a line from his former sponsor, Nike, for Armstrong he had to just do it regardless of the cost.
There was human growth hormone, steroids and blood doping. There were also 15 years of denials. All of them fake.
However, one of the key elements in the confession was that Armstrong wasn’t alone in the systematic cheating and that is why he cannot be blamed for devastating his sport. Yet his bullying was a strong contributor.
While Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis and George Hincapie helped reveal Armstrong’s secret they were complicit in the scandal. Their jerseys are just as tainted.
But it will be Armstrong who will be held as the pariah. After all he was the best of them all.
Not any more. And after what we heard today we can’t feel sorry for him.
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