He’d like to preserve his wealth, estimated to be between $100million and $120 million. But the master of the intimidating lawsuit is facing a slew of suits against him. If he can make amends, recast himself as a contrite, flawed human being who made mistakes, he might mitigate the damage.
It’s a tried and true marketing strategy for any brand. Presenting the “new and improved” Lance Armstrong. Maybe he has told Oprah he will start an anti-doping campaign.
We’ve asked him to confess his dirty ways. We are a forgiving society. But Armstrong has so much explaining to do, and he’s doing it only because he’s confronted with irrefutable evidence.
How does he explain why he exploited the emotions of those who read his autobiography during chemo treatments? Or those who believed in him for his message of determination? He was doping before he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
He used his story of cancer fighter and mountain-conquering hero to create a myth and make a fortune. His Livestrong motto was turned into a Nike line. He conned the cancer community. Barry Bonds and plenty of others lied about PEDs, but they didn’t stoop as low as Armstrong in their deception.
How can Armstrong ever explain — or change — his malicious character? He threatened, accosted, ostracized, bullied, belittled and sued anyone who said he was cheating. He wrecked careers, sabotaged Greg LeMond’s Trek contract and said he’d bribe people to say LeMond doped. He accused journalists of libel. He pressured teammates to dope or lose their jobs. He told Tyler Hamilton he would make his life “a f------ hell.” He told Levi Leipheimer’s wife to “run don’t walk.” He depicted his masseuse as a drunk and Floyd Landis as a nut.
“We like our credibility,” was his snide comment about Landis, a doper who came clean and blew the whistle on Armstrong.
The excuses — every cyclist doped and Armstrong raised a lot of money for a good cause — don’t hold up. What if he had only raised $5,000 with his wristbands? Would that be enough to justify cheating?
If nothing else, the Armstrong fraud teaches us, once and forever, not to fall into hero worship. Athletes aren’t saints, and, with the exception of Armstrong, they don’t pretend to be. They just want to win more badly than the rest of us.