Lance Armstrong is the ultimate scumbag. But he isn’t a scumbag because he took drugs.
He is a scumbag because of the intimidation, the bribes, the bullying and the legal threats he used to demonise those who dared to tell the truth against him.
He is a scumbag because he used the fact that he had fought cancer and won as a PR weapon to absolve him from any questions or curiosity about whether or not he was using performance enhancing drugs.
He is a scumbag because he used his battle with cancer to market his face as a universal icon.
Lance Armstrong’s expected confession to Oprah Winfrey is not about contrition. Make no mistake he will be using this stage to further his own interests, just as he used his lies to further his own interests.
Lance Armstrong didn’t just win seven Tour de France titles by using performance enhancing drugs. With his fraudulent titles he built a brand and organisation that made him rich.
He used his foundation, Livestrong, as leverage to attract sponsors, endorsements and investments. Companies such as Honey Stinger food bars and FRS sports drinks endorsed Livestrong, paid Armstrong to be a spokesman and in return got access to sell their products at Livestrong events.
Livestrong spent aggressively on PR, marketing and branding to propel Armstrong’s image into what his lawyers described him as when people questioned his authenticity: “A national hero best known for his role in the fight against cancer.”
Most people make the mistake of assuming that Livestrong raise money for cancer research. But it doesn’t. Some have even suggested that Armstrong’s crimes are forgivable because he has raised “hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research.” He hasn’t.
Livestrong raised $20 million for cancer research between 1997 and 2005. Then it stopped. Now it publishes cancer guide books detailing the many treatment options patients can choose from to fight the disease.
Since 2005 Livestrong has spent more money on PR, marketing, branding, merchandise, construction and legal bills than it ever did on cancer research.
Then there is www.livestrong.com which was developed in 2008. It is a commercial health and fitness website developed for profit. It trades under the same logos as the non-profit www.livestrong.org but none of the money it receives for sale of its merchandises is used to help cancer survivors. When the company went public Armstrong’s sold his 156,000 shares and made $2 million.
1,000 pages of evidence compiled by Usada that include sworn affidavits, medical records, test results and email correspondence already told us that Lance Armstrong is a drug cheat. Not only that the report told us it was “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.”
An example of such evidence include this anecdote that in 1999 Armstrong’s samples that tested positive for EPO contained no naturally produced EPO. It was all artificial; implying that he had been aggressively doping for so long that his body had stopped producing its own EPO.
We don’t need to hear his bullshit confession now.
We need to hear an apology for the innocent people’s lives he ruined. People like Betsy Andreu and Emma O’Reilly.
Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong’s former teammate Frankie Andreu, was one of the first people to claim Armstrong was doping. She said she was present in an Indiana University hospital room on October 27th 1996 when Armstrong told doctors treating him for cancer that he had doped with EPO, human growth hormones, cortisone, steroids and testosterone.
Armstrong responded by labelling her “vindictive, bitter, vengeful and jealous.”
Emma O’Reilly, his former masseuse, tried to tell the truth in 2003. She spoke of how Armstrong had her ferry drugs and syringes around France for him in 1999. He sued her for libel and demonised her to the media as a whore with a drinking problem.
With such a sociopathic styled defence of himself no wonder so many believed him for so long.
The list goes on. Tyler Hamilton, Michele Ferrari, Filippo Simeoni, Greg LeMond, Frankie Andreu, Christophe Bassons, David Walsh, Paul Kimmage are just some of the names Armstrong either threatened, bribed or sued in his relentless campaign to discredit those who dared speak out against him.
Don’t expect Oprah Winfrey’s interview to reveal any redeeming qualities about the man. In fact, don’t even bother watching it.
He doesn’t deserve anymore of our attention.