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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lance Armstrong is a liar, cheater, and bully, and one Oprah interview isn’t enough

lance armstrongLance Armstrong is beginning his tour of redemption in an effort to supposedly clear his conscience and rebuild his name. He reportedly admitted to Oprah that he cheated throughout his cycling career by using drugs and blood transfusions. He also reportedly admitted to using before he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Though it’s being billed as Armstrong “coming clean,” one interview with Oprah won’t come close to mending the damage he caused throughout his career. Lance Armstrong didn’t just cheat and lie about how he achieved his accomplishments. He didn’t just build an empire of wealth and become the face of the fight against cancer under false pretenses. He bullied his teammates into cheating along with him, and he and his people threatened the lives of others who dared speak the truth about him. As far as corrupt morals go, Armstrong and his associates are as bad as it gets.

In the video below, via BuzzFeed, you can see a reminder of how vigorously Armstrong denied cheating throughout his career:

How much in denial do you have to be to construct an entire empire on false pretenses? Once you get buried in a lie, you fall deeper in deeper in lies to protect it. That was Armstrong, who didn’t just deny that he cheated; he actually made commercials and built an entire image championing himself as someone who achieved everything cleanly. That’s sickening.

If an athlete makes the choice to use performance-enhancing drugs in order to … perform better in competition … that’s a decision many of us can understand. In a field like cycling, one can even question how much a difference it makes if a cyclist is using PEDs considering all the riders are probably using it. But the reason why these drugs are and substances are banned is because they are hazardous to peoples’ health. Some believe that Armstrong got cancer because of the banned substances he put in his body. Some people don’t want to go along with those programs, but Armstrong punished them for not doing so.

In reality, this isn’t a matter of whether Lance’s accomplishments were clean; it’s a matter of how he and his team behaved while he was under suspicion.

Lance Armstrong was not just a doper and drug user. According to several teammates, he’s the one who introduced many of them to cheating and told them that’s what they had to do in order to win and compete. He was the leader of what was considered the most sophisticated doping ring in cycling. Then he built up a cancer awareness foundation almost as if it should shield him from all wrongdoing. That won’t cut it with me.

Armstrong and his team of lawyers and protectors were some of the biggest bullies I can think of. They had millions of dollars, the backing of Nike, and a cancer shield allowing them to distort the truth and help them enforce their lies.

Think about Armstrong’s attorney’s response to the recent evidence compiled by USADA against Armstrong.

Armstrong’s lawyer Tim Herman dismissed the USADA report as a “one-sided hatchet job” and a “government-funded witch hunt.” One little problem there, Herman, everything in the report was true and you and Lance knew it.

Early last decade, masseuse Emma O’Reilly thought she was being hired to give massages to members of the US Postal Service team. Armstrong turned her into a drug mule and had her transport the goods across international borders. She testified that Lance tried to “make my life hell.” How did Armstrong respond? By suing her in England where slander laws favor the famous even though he knew everything she said was true.

After former teammate Tyler Hamilton went on “60 Minutes” and told the truth about all the cheating that went on in the sport and on the team, Armstrong similarly threatened him, “I’m going to make your life a living hell both in the courtroom and out of the courtroom.”

Betsy Andreu, the wife of Lance’s former teammate, Frankie Andreu, testified they were in a hospital room in 1996 where they say Armstrong told a doctor he used EPO, HGH, and steroids. Armstrong called the Andreus “vindictive, bitter, vengeful and jealous,” for their testimony. The reality is they were being truthful. It was Armstrong who responded with the namecalling because he had no other defense.

“Frankie‚Äôs career was derailed because he wouldn’t get on the program, Greg [Lemond's] bike business was destroyed, we were all criticized and harassed,” Betsy Andreu recently told Velonation.

“Lance told [Frankie] in 2000, ‘It’s time to get serious.’ All the training hours he put into the sport wasn’t good enough for Lance. The couple of times Frankie had used EPO wasn’t good enough, Lance wanted him to get on the whole kit and caboodle. Frankie refused and then it was career over,” Andreu told the Daily Mail.

Andreu says she received a voicemail from Lance’s people threatening to “break a baseball bat” over her head for her speaking out.

Anytime someone tried telling the truth about Armstrong’s cheating, they were confronted by members of his legal team with threatening letters. It didn’t matter if people were telling the truth about Lance. His deep pockets and powerful and aggressive lawyers would bury them in fear and lawsuits. That’s about as big of an injustice as it gets. You tell the truth, he sues you and makes you pay.

I dislike lawsuits, but I really hope all the people whose reputations were destroyed by Armstrong sue him back for everything he did to them.

Armstrong is still being protected by people in the media. People still view him as a cancer survivor and great symbol in the fight against cancer. I can understand if people choose to be inspired by his “win at all costs” mentality that was used in cycling and to beat cancer. But one thing I want to make sure everyone recognizes is how awful he and his people have been. Lance isn’t even looking to seek justice or atone for the way he has acted; he is looking to have his name cleared by USADA so he can compete again. Why else go on Oprah instead of a show where he would really be grilled with pertinent questions?



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