Give disgraced bicyclist
At last, the truth.
Mr. Armstrong's affirmation, after years of frequent, strident denials that he had taken drugs to improve his competition performance, validated what nearly everyone else — not least the sport's ruling body, the
But in too many ways, Mr. Armstrong's TV confession fell short; even Ms. Winfrey said he "did not come clean in the manner I expected."
For years, he viciously bullied former teammates and colleagues who urged him to tell the truth about his drug use; in the interview, he didn't apologize to them. He denied pressuring other cyclists into taking drugs, despite sworn evidence to the contrary.
He told Ms. Winfrey he didn't think he could compete if he didn't use banned substances, because so many others were doing so. The blame-the-culture argument is a familiar one, and speaks little of one's personal integrity. Where was he years ago when his mother asked him, as she must have, "If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?"
The admission was there. The repentance seemed absent.
The tragedy of this American hero's downfall is all the more acute because it caps what to many was an inspiring story of apparent heroism, guts and the fierce will to fight back. A world cycling champion since 1993, Mr. Armstrong was diagnosed with
To wide acclaim, in 1997 he created the
But last year, after almost a decade of rumors and denials, the
Mr. Armstrong reportedly said that his interview with Ms. Winfrey was part of a multi-year healing process. It will take awhile for him to undo years of his lies about his fraudulent wins, but if he hopes to succeed, here are some steps he should take:
• He must testify, under oath and cross-examination, to the U. S. Anti-Doping Agency about the full extent of his doping activities, and name names. Who supplied the drugs?
•He must apologize, without evasion, to all those in the cycling and anti-doping communities whom he verbally attacked and threatened over the years merely for telling the truth. Asking forgiveness by name would be a plus, if his memory is up to the task.
• He must devote the rest of his career not to further competition at the professional level, but to enthusiastic promotion of drug-free amateur cycling. Many enthusiastic amateur cyclists were inspired to try the sport by Mr. Armstrong's courage in the face of catastrophe.
If he is lucky, very lucky, that will be his legacy. Bicycling is an entirely worthwhile activity, even for those who could never compete in an event with "Tour" in its name. Eco-friendly, fun and wholesome, it builds character as well as muscles.