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Lance Armstrong: Interview with Oprah Winfrey – Part 2

In Life Lessons, Sports on January 19, 2013 at 3:24 am

armstrong part 2

The national reaction to part 1 of Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey was largely negative.  At no time during the interview did he exhibit any true contrition for the damage that he inflicted with his bullying ways to those who threatened to expose his lying and cheating.  Though he said some of the right words, the tone and arrogance with which they were delivered left viewers wondering if he agreed to the interview just so he could someday compete again in sanctioned events.

Armstrong’s stoic, tough exterior was still present during part 2 of his interview with Oprah, but he did show some signs of true emotion while discussing his son’s protection of him and his disassociation from the Livestrong cancer foundation that he created shortly after he was diagnosed with Stage III Testicular Cancer.

Since its inception, Livestrong has raised nearly $500 million for cancer research and support, due in large part to Armstrong sharing his personal story about defying the odds and beating the disease that gave him only a 50% chance of survival.  Not only did he win his battle with cancer, but he did so in an international spotlight while rising to the top of the cycling world with his seven Tour de France titles.

When the doping and cheating accusations against Armstrong started coming to light, he knew that his professional career would be in jeopardy and that he would eventually be stripped of all of his sponsorships.

For a man who was seemingly on top of the world, it was a humbling experience to receive one call after another from his sponsors as they informed him that he was being dropped.  It started on a Wednesday with Nike, and within a few days, Armstrong had lost $75 million worth of sponsorships.

While the loss of all of his sponsorships was humbling, Armstrong – with tears in his eyes – said that his most humbling moment came when he was encouraged to step down as Chairman from Livestrong.  At the time, his plan was to stay involved in a lesser capacity, but within a matter of weeks, he was asked to sever ties completely from the charity that he founded.  He said that stepping aside was the best thing for the foundation, but that it “hurt like hell” because it was like his “sixth child.”

Armstrong’s two youngest children are too young to understand what is going on with their father, but his other three children are fully aware of what he is going through, none more than his oldest son – Luke.  At 13, Luke took it upon himself to defend his father to the masses on social media sites.

Knowing that his son was lying to protect his name, Armstrong’s fatherly instincts finally kicked in, and he said to his son…“I want you to know that it’s true.  Don’t defend me anymore.”

It doesn’t matter how tough you are, or how tough your persona is, when it comes to disappointing your children, everyone is equally vulnerable.  And though Armstrong had become a villain to so many, his son – upon hearing his father’s admission – responded by saying “I love you…you’re my dad…this won’t change that.”

Armstrong’s teary eyes while talking about his son and his removal from Livestrong don’t change the fact that he hurt a lot of people, but it does show that there is a compassionate side buried deep within his gruff exterior.  He was also visibly shaken when discussing the impact that this whole situation has had on his mother.

Armstrong admitted that he has been in therapy over the years, but that he has never done it as consistently as he should because he has had a “messy life.”  He knows that he has wronged a lot of people, and reiterated his pledge to spend as much time as it takes to make amends with the people that he betrayed, lied to and bullied.  He knows full well that many of the people will never forgive him.  He also admits that his arrogance has not gone away, and that becoming less arrogant is not an overnight process.

After watching both parts of Armstrong’s interview with Oprah in its entirety, it is abundantly clear that Armstrong chose to do this interview because he has an agenda, which should come as no surprise.

Does he truly feel remorse for hurting so many people with his heavy-handed tactics to perpetuate his lie and protect his reputation and his career?  Perhaps, but making amends doesn’t seem to be as important as having the chance to compete once again in sanctioned events.

The tearful Armstrong was only present for a portion of part 2 of the interview.  The agenda-driven Armstrong was a bit subdued, but still made his case that he deserves to compete again because others who cheated only received a 6-month suspension.  As it stands today, Armstrong has been given the “death penalty,” which prohibits him from competing in any sanctioned events, cycling or otherwise.

Is Armstrong’s punishment much more severe than his fellow cheating cyclists?  Undoubtedly, yes.  However, Armstrong has only himself to blame for his severe punishment.  He did whatever it took to elevate himself into a stratosphere that no other cyclist ever came close to approaching.  He used his position of power to ruin the lives of many innocent people, and for that, he is paying a steeper price than those who merely participated in the cheating that was rampant in cycling at the time.

Many of the people that Armstrong hurt will never forgive him, which is something that he understands.  It remains to be seen whether he will truly spend the rest of his life trying to make amends with the people that he wronged.

The most important act of forgiveness has already been granted to Armstrong by his eldest son.  And though he is no longer a part of Livestrong for strategic reasons, it appears that he is in good standing with the people who have taken over the reins to continue doing the good work that Armstrong started.

When asked by Oprah if Livestrong could survive without his story, Armstrong simply replied…“I hope so.”

For the sake of all of those who are relying upon Livestrong to help them through their darkest hour, we should all hope that the foundation thrives without Armstrong, whether we like him as a person or not.

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  1. […] Lance Armstrong Interview with Oprah Winfrey – Part 2 […]

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