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Posts Tagged ‘Livestrong’

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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Lance Armstrong: Interview with Oprah Winfrey – Part 1

In Life Lessons, Sports on January 18, 2013 at 12:20 am

Lance Armstrong - Oprah Winfrey Interview - Part 1

After several years of living a lie and doing whatever it took to perpetuate the lie, Lance Armstrong finally admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he is guilty of doping and using performance-enhancing drugs throughout the peak years of his career.

Quite frankly, the details of the admission were not at all surprising.  The only surprising element was that Armstrong finally came clean after all these years.  If part 1 of the 2-part interview is any indication, this confession seems to be self-serving, and not the mea culpa that many had hoped to witness.

The truth of the matter is that most people don’t care too much about the doping and performance-enhancing drugs that Armstrong used to help propel him to the top of the cycling world.  Until Armstrong started dominating the Tour de France with regularity, most Americans didn’t pay any attention to the sport.  His cycling dominance combined with his testicular cancer battle made him a compelling media story.  If there is one thing that Americans love, it is a story about someone beating the odds, especially when it comes to sports.  Is there a sports fan out there who wasn’t totally inspired by the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team winning the gold medal?  Who among us can watch the movie Rudy and not get choked up, and perhaps even shed a tear?

Lance Armstrong made America stand up and take notice of a sport that very few Americans cared about.  If not for the fact that he destroyed innocent peoples’ lives while trying to perpetuate his lie, most people would have already forgiven him for cheating.  After all, the sport of cycling is rife with competitors doing the exact same thing.  If we as a society can appreciate Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire shattering Major League Baseball’s long-standing home run record, we can certainly accept someone cheating to win a bike race that most people ignore anyway.

If Armstrong didn’t make it his mission to destroy those who could expose him, all of the good that he has done for cancer support with his Livestrong charity would have allowed most people to dismiss his transgressions as nothing more than business as usual for people who participate in a sport filled with corruption.

By the time that part 1 of Armstrong’s interview with Oprah aired, the whole world already knew that he was going to admit to cheating.   What people wanted to see was remorse for trampling over anyone who got in his way or threatened to expose him.  But the remorse that he showed was lukewarm at best.

Armstrong admitted to being a control freak and a bully.  He admitted that he was wrong, and refused to point fingers at others or give names of others who cheated.  He confessed that he has always gone into attack-mode against those who have threatened his way of life, even when he was growing up.

Armstrong said that he was “deeply flawed” and “a jerk” and that he would go back in time and do things differently if he could.  He acknowledged that he had ruthless desire to win at all costs and that he was an “arrogant prick.”  And though his admissions and regret are what people wanted to hear, the bottom line is that Armstrong’s delivery and body language left you with the feeling that he is still an “arrogant prick.”

When Oprah pressed him on the damage that he caused in the lives of Frankie and Betsy Andreu, Armstrong couldn’t bring himself to say that they were telling the truth because there was at least one element of the story that he vehemently denies…calling Betsy “fat.”  However, he didn’t deny calling her a “crazy bitch.”  And though he recently had a 40-minute conversation with the Andreus, Armstrong said that his relationship with the couple has not been mended because they were too badly hurt by him.

Ultimately, part 1 of the interview with Oprah did very little, if anything, to redeem Armstrong in the eyes of those who were looking for a changed man filled with remorse for the way that he treated people close to him.

While he admitted to cheating, he also seemed to justify it as simply being part of a level playing field with other cheaters.  More importantly, Armstrong’s refusal to admit that the Andreus were telling the truth about him because of some minor inconsistencies in their story shows that he is not really willing to do what it takes to earn back the trust of the people that he hurt, unless of course, it is on his terms…just like it has always been.

Lance Armstrong Interview with Oprah Winfrey – Part 2

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