Disheartening seems to be the “go-to” adjective when discussing the latest scandal in professional sports. Last Thursday people around the world were stunned as they watched Lance Armstrong admit to the very actions he had denied for 13 years: the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Needless to say, more than just his fans were devastated by the news. In particular, ESPN columnist Rick Reilly showed anger and even remorse at the idea of being fooled by Armstrong for so many years. Reilly published an article the same day that Lance Armstrong’s revealing interview with Oprah Winfrey aired. The article was rife with the words of a wounded man. After sharing an email from Armstrong which read, “I’m sorry” and little else, Reilly set off to attack the “friend” he had defended for so long. Reilly wrote, “Two words? For 14 years of defending a man? And in the end, being made to look like a chump?” Even those who thought they were close enough to Armstrong to know the truth were unaware of the measures he had taken to become one of the most famous athletes in the world.
After over a decade of cycling and 7 Tour de France titles it is hard to accept that a “hero” like Lance Armstrong could have fooled everyone. People everywhere have looked up to him for more than just his athleticism and cycling talent. His fans supported him throughout his struggle to defeat cancer back in 1996, and he has now become one of the most recognizable faces for cancer awareness; few are unaware of the meaning behind a yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet.
Julia Grimm, A&S ’15, recognized the weight of Armstrong’s latest falling-out. "It’s unfortunate that this scandal is what he will be remembered for especially because he is an athlete that a lot of people looked up to,” Grimm said. At the same time, Grimm does not let Armstrong off the hook just because of the hope he has spread to those fighting cancer around the world: “Rules are rules. It would have been unfair for him to keep his titles if he had an illegal advantage.”
In his interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong didn’t falter in admitting his use of PED’s (Performance Enhancing Drugs). In fact, he clearly stated, “yes” to each question Winfrey asked about his use of drugs. He came clean, pun intended. When discussing the interview with CBS news correspondents, Winfrey suggested that Armstrong was “forthcoming” with his confessions; he didn’t dance around the questions. Armstrong even showed some very deep emotion when revealing why he decided to come clean. It was because of his son. Hearing his son defend him through and through finally got to Armstrong, and he decided it was time to tell his son the truth. He didn’t want his son to lie for him anymore.
But it is hard to believe that Armstrong is regretful for much more than getting caught. Years of angry denial demonstrated a side of Armstrong in which he strongly reacted to accusations against his integrity. But David Albares, A&S ’14, thinks that the situation makes sense. Albares commented that the scandal shows that “the truth seems to always come out…[and] it really reinforces how once you start lying it gets harder and harder to tell the truth because you have to go back on what you have said for so long.” Albares was perhaps the most disappointed in Armstrong due to the manner which he claimed his honesty for years. He stated, “I really lose respect for him because he went after people telling the truth with such viciousness, including lawsuits and such.” And Albares is not the only BC student disappointed by Armstrong’s lies. Jillian Boylan, A&S ’15, was the “most disheartened…because he does not seem to show enough remorse for his actions.”
Despite the fact that he has come clean and has handed out the two words, “I’m sorry,” to those associated with LIVESTRONG and friends like Rick Reilly, after so many years of lying maybe it is right on target to question the honesty within his apologies. Regardless, it is still unclear where Armstrong’s future lies. The World Anti-Doping Agency revealed that Armstrong hopes to escape his lifetime ban on triathlon events, but in order for this to happen he will have to confess under oath and endure a proper legal process in order to have his ban reconsidered. In the meantime, the future will likely hold many more apologies, lawsuits, and testimonies for Armstrong as he attempts to rebuild his once sterling reputation.