Lance Armstrong: Psychopath, story-perpetuator
“Again, just trying to perpetuate the story. And hide the truth.”
OK. Who said that? See those words on a blank page, and I’d bet most people would guess that Manti Te’o had come clean.
But it was Lance Armstrong, talking to Oprah on Thursday night. That was Armstrong’s response to her question of what made him a bully, which he had just admitted to.
I thought it was an interesting answer. Much of Armstrong’s interview that aired Thursday centered on his lust for winning. Armstrong copped to doping, including blood transfusions, for all seven Tour de France titles.
But this particular answer was different. The story, Armstrong said. Perpetuate the story. Scaling not just the Alps, but testicular cancer as well. Not just becoming the champion of his sport, but elevating his sport in the American consciousness.
The story. That’s what Te’o has done, to either a small or large extent. Perpetuate the story.
Other thoughts on Armstrong and Oprah:
* Armstrong admitted to winning all seven Tour de France titles with doping. He didn’t break down. He didn’t shed a tear. He even explained why in his mind he wasn’t “cheating.”
Anyone who thought he would have some kind of emotional breakdown was sorely disappointed.
But at least he came clean about being unclean. That’s a start.
* I saw no problem with Oprah’s interviewing. She didn’t get into the Livestrong stuff, but I assume that’s coming Friday night. Oprah hit heavy on the doping and on the bullying. She wasn’t Mike Wallace, but there aren’t many of those walking around.
* The biggest loser of the night was cycling. The sport was indicted. And not just because of the drug culture, which has been clearly established, not just by Armstrong’s admissions Thursday night but the wave of testimony in recent months that forced Armstrong into a corner.
It’s no excuse to say everyone was doing it, but most everyone was doing it. That doesn’t exonerate Armstrong. That makes the sport a total fraud.
Perhaps cycling is clean these days. Who knows? But it’s a little like boxing. What if boxing has actually gotten its act together these days? Who would know? Who would be left to care?
Listen to this quote from Armstrong on whether he found happiness in winning those seven straight Tour de Frances: “There was more happiness in the process. In the build. In the preparation. The winning was almost phoned in.”
In other words, Armstrong had those tours won before they started. And that’s exactly how they felt to us great unwashed. There was no drama. The verdict seemed predetermined. Not fixed, that’s not what I mean. Predetermined. Sort of like UCLA basketball in the Wooden years. Or Federer in his prime.
And that wasn’t a doping issue. That’s a format issue. I don’t claim to understand the Tour de France format. My former neighbor was a cyclist, a super guy, and he once spent 10 minutes trying to explain the format. I didn’t know any more when he finished than when he had started.
* Armstrong seemed contrite to me. As contrite as a psychopath can be.
I suppose I shouldn’t use the term “psychopath” without looking it up. So here’s the definition: “…amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience…”
Hey, I think I stuck that one. That’s exactly what Armstrong sounded like, from his own testimony. Now, he didn’t go into his family at all – I assume that’s coming Friday and I assume he will talk warmly about his children – but clearly the definition fits with his actions of the last 15 years.
And I was serious. For such a person, I thought his apologies and confessions were solid. He didn’t break down and bare his soul, like I expect Manti Te’o to do some day soon. Armstrong was much more matter of fact.
But there were times when he sounded downright nuts. Like when he was talking about Betsy Andreu, the wife of his former teammate, Frankie Andreu. Betsy Andreu testified that she heard Armstrong admit to a doctor that he took all kinds of performance-enhancing drugs. The Andreus are among the people who Armstrong admitted to bullying in the public marketplace.
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