NORMAN — Lance Armstrong is a cheat, a liar and a bully. He is selfish, vengeful and manipulative. He destroyed people, all to hide his cheating and his lies and to preserve the facade of his heroism and to protect his enormous wealth, celebrity and clout.
These facts, following the telecast of Armstrong’s stilted confessional with Oprah Winfrey, are crystal clear.
Millions of people are disillusioned now, some of them heartbroken. Armstrong was a hero. He beat cancer and struck back against the disease by establishing the Livestrong Foundation in 1997. By 2011, the foundation had grown to raise $36 million a year for the good fight.
We desperately wanted to disbelieve the persistent rumors and accusations that Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs to win his seven Tour de France cycling titles. Even after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in October released a damning 1,000-page report vilifying Armstrong, we clung to belief in his steadfast claims of innocence.
So now the truth — or part of it, anyway — is out. Armstrong admits it. He took PEDs. Then he lied about it. And he sued and bullied to cover his tracks.
It’s the way of the world — cheating and lying — according to experts in the dark arts of human nature.
A Duke University professor of psychology, Dan Ariely, wrote a book called “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone, Especially Ourselves.”
In an Associated Press article, Ariely explained the common excuses cheaters use to justify their transgressions: “They say, ‘Everyone else was doing it’ or ‘It was for a good cause.’”
Armstrong has used the first excuse. He claims it would have been impossible to win his Tour de France titles without doping. The record of the professional cycling tour from Armstrong’s heyday confirms that the use of PEDs was rampant.
So now, we’re left to ask, was it for a good cause? After all, it’s unlikely that the Livestrong Foundation would have become the cash-fueled, cancer-fighting machine that it became without Armstrong’s record of not only beating testicular cancer but going on to spectacular domination of a sport at the world-class level.
Without Armstrong’s Tour victories, Livestrong wouldn’t have raised nearly as much money and couldn’t have helped nearly as many people battle cancer. And without the drugs, it’s unlikely that Armstrong would have won his Tour titles.
In the end, those whose love of Armstrong motivated them to support Livestrong should take solace — their donations have done a great good. Their giving has helped millions fight cancer. It wasn’t Armstrong who did that. It was each individual donor.
While the embodiment of the inspiration to fight cancer to the death — its death — has been exposed as a fraud, the inspiration for the fight survives. Whatever becomes of Armstrong, who faces litigation and possible criminal prosecution, the fight against cancer must go on.
— The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind.