Monday January 28, 2013
Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace
BUT THEN AGAIN
By MARY SCHNEIDER
LIKE many people, I’ve been following Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace. One minute he’s the hero of the cycling world, and the next, he’s talking to Oprah, trying to look contrite but not quite pulling it off. Lance has stood on the winner’s podium wearing the prized yellow jersey at the end of the Tour de France, seven times, and I’m curious to know what was going through his head on those occasions.
The first time he won, he was probably carried away by the enormity of the occasion and might have said to himself, “Wow! I didn’t know this could be so easy.”
The second time he won, he might have tried to justify his cheating by saying to himself, “So what if I’ve used performance enhancing drugs, so has every other idiot on a bike. That makes it a level playing field. And will you look at all those hot chicks dying to meet me!”
The third time he won, his conscience might have had him saying to himself, “This feels good, but it’s so wrong. Next year, I’ll quit the drugs and compete honestly. But heck, will you look at all those hot chicks dying to meet me!”
But I doubt if Lance Armstrong has ever had a conscience. Each time he stood on the winner’s podium, he probably said to himself, “Look at all those suckers! They’re never going to beat me. I’ll make sure of that.”
“But what about the Oprah interview?” you might be saying just about now. Doesn’t that show that he has a conscience, that he wants to come clean and start afresh?
Stuff and nonsense. I suspect the only reason Armstrong went on Oprah was to see how much weight she’s really put on since leaving prime time TV.
Actually that’s not true. His motive for speaking to Oprah is probably the same as his motive for denying his guilt for so long: he has something to gain. After all, there is a good chance that his confession might result in the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) removing the life-long ban on him, enabling him to compete in triathlons, bike races and other sporting events.
Like who the heck wants to compete against Armstrong in any event? He would probably cheat in an egg and spoon race by gluing the egg to the spoon, if he could get away with it. It doesn’t matter what he does from now on, everyone, the hot chicks included, are going to wonder what he’s on if he wins anything.
This incident reminds me of another public figure who lied through his teeth to protect himself: former US President Bill Clinton. Slick Willy, as he was called back in 1998, denied having sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, but still managed to reclaim a certain amount of credibility by confessing his sins. Indeed, he is a much-respected figure in political circles these days. However, unlike Armstrong, who has possibly permanently lost his credibility, Clinton seems to be blessed with a conscience. If he didn’t show adequate remorse and regret for his actions, I’m sure his wife Hilary would have given him the boot a long time ago, possibly not while he was still President, but surely shortly after they had vacated the White House. Although, perhaps she is still with him now because she wants to be the next President.
But I digress ... The thing that bothers me most about the Lance Armstrongs and the Bill Clintons of this world has nothing to do with their remorse or lack thereof. Their public exposure is an indication that lying and deception are becoming more and more prevalent in many societies, especially with people typically regarded as role models and those who profess to having our best interests at heart. And this is not just happening in Western countries.
I remember when Imelda Marcos, the widow of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, had to flee the Philippines in 1986 after her husband was overthrown. In her haste to leave, she left behind 3,000 pairs of shoes – just one of the many manifestations of a decadent lifestyle financed from the Filipino treasury. After cheating the Filipino people out of billions of dollars and lying about the source of her husband’s wealth, Imelda announced in 2011 that she’d only ever had 200 pairs of shoes and that earlier reports were wrong. The bulk of the shoes, she claimed, must have belonged to someone else. And this is the same woman who was elected as a Congresswoman in her home province in 1995.
Around the region, similar stories of greed, corruption and outright lying to cover everything up seem to emerge almost on a daily basis. It makes you wonder if anyone has our best interests at heart anymore.