Americans love to forgive, but personally, I think we have taken it too far if we let Lance Armstrong off of the hook so easily.
This may be my belief alone, but I feel that a person seeking forgiveness needs to apologize and atone for their wrongs. Lance did not do that. In the entire 3,000 word transcript of his Oprah interview the word “sorry” appears a grand total of four times. Four. Three of those four “sorries” came in the context of his being a part of the culture of drug use in competitive cycling, as opposed to Armstrong saying sorry for his actions in any direct or meaningful way. The fourth came as Lance described why he was on Oprah giving the interview: “One of the steps of this process is to say sorry.”
Sorry Lance, but stating that you are admitting a wrong because it’s a step in a process lacks the sincerity that I am looking for in an apology.
Lance admitted to a lot of heinous acts in his interview, acts that were far worse than the doping. He admitted to being a bully, to suing innocent people who spoke the truth about his activities, to contributing to a culture that viewed EPO as being as important as “air in our tires.” Armstrong was never a helpless pawn while committing these acts; rather, he admitted to “controlling everything in my life.”
It’s exactly because Lance did control everything in his life and is still trying to control everything that I will not offer him the forgiveness others seem ready and eager to give. He is a man who is desperately trying to maintain control of his story; he is no more sorry for his actions now than he was in June 2012, all of seven months ago, when he released an 18-page letter against USADA’s “baseless” case.
Armstrong’s confession and his insistence that the last time he doped was in 2005 is telling of how he is not offering a true confession or being forthcoming with the truth. First, USADA has offered evidence that Armstrong doped during his comeback in 2009 and 2010. If this is true, then Armstrong is continuing to lie even while insisting he is making his confession. Second, and perhaps more importantly, according to ESPN’s T.J. Quinn, “It means he’s after the statute of limitations on a number of issues.” Long story short, Armstrong is copping mainly to the crimes for which he can no longer be held liable.
So no, I will not forgive a person who justifies illegal and immoral actions by arguing that he was simply creating “a level playing field.” I cannot forgive someone who is still trying to control the story and who is unwilling to apologize to those he hurt with the same vigor with which he attacked them. I will not forgive someone who continues to lie.
Some good has come from this whole mess. USADA has earned a measure of respect for staying the course in its crusade against doping, even when things looked darkest. The Livestrong organization has raised millions for cancer research; I hope it can overcome and continue its mission, though I have my doubts. Finally, the victims of Lance Armstrong can feel some measure of vindication after years of being vilified.
But as for Lance? There is no good that will come from this, and barring an unprecedented and unexpected event I doubt he will ever be able to earn back even a fraction of the trust and goodwill he once enjoyed.
I cannot even imagine what would need to happen for him to earn back mine.
How do you feel about Lance Armstrong; will you forgive him? Why or why not? What about his effect on sports and doping? Tell us below in the Comments.