Blogs & Opinion


Redemption song

Features Posted 18th January 2013 view comments

There were two audiences for Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey early on Friday morning.

The reactions of the two were predictably different. The cycling audience was livid; for them, Armstrong is beyond atonement, and, unless he had forensically named every individual complicit in his doping, nothing he said was likely to earn him even a smidgen of sympathy.

Armstrong: needs to start pointing fingers

Armstrong: needs to start pointing fingers

Among those who don't know, and don't care, about the sport, some ambivalence was evident. "He seemed very open, and even a bit humble," was the comment of one non-cyclist. Armstrong will be hoping others will have been similarly convinced.

Many never will be. There were people who were attacked by Armstrong in a particularly nasty manner, and they are justifiably angry and unforgiving.

The lesson of previous sinners-turned-saints is that the only way to redemption is to dump others in it. Would Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis be hailed in some quarters as whistle-blowing heroes - and indeed victims - had they only confessed to their own cheating?

Richard Moore
Quotes of the week

Cycling fans have every right to be angry, too. Journalists who covered the Armstrong era, who in some cases were duped, and in others effectively muzzled, are also in an unforgiving mood.

There is some forgiveness out there: in the peloton's old guard. The opponents 'robbed' of success by Armstrong's cheating appear, in the main, suspiciously unperturbed, with some, such as Germany's Andreas Kloden, second to Armstrong in 2004, currently preparing for the 2013 season in apparent - to use a favourite Euro expression - 'serenity.'

Trying to plot a path through the middle of it all is difficult. Emotions run high - except when it comes to Armstrong himself, who appeared diminished and humbled (not humble, note), but devoid of emotion.

The challenge in analysing what he said to Winfrey is a familiar one: how do you know what to believe when the speaker is a proven, and extremely gifted, liar? As he admitted early on in the interview, "I'm not the most believable guy in the world right now, I understand that."

If someone is not telling the full truth then contradictions are inevitable. And there were some. Though he half-heartedly proposed the 'level playing field' thesis - that because they were all doing it, the best man still won - he also admitted: "I view this situation as one big lie, that I repeated a lot of times... The story was so perfect, for so long... This mythic, perfect story."

You could almost sense his nostalgic yearning for this previous, perfect, fictional life.

And while on the one hand, he said, "I made my decisions. They are my mistakes. I am sitting here today to acknowledge that. And to say sorry for that," he also said that these decisions did not feel wrong at the time.

This, he admitted, was "scary." So Winfrey asked if he felt bad about what he was doing. "No. Even scarier." Did he feel he was cheating? "No." So the scariness comes only with hindsight, having been caught.

Echo

A point made by Tyler Hamilton in his book, that cancer did not deter Armstrong from doping, but drove him to go even further with it when he returned to the sport, was echoed by Armstrong.

"It was truly win at all costs," he said. "When I was diagnosed, I said, 'I will do anything I can do to survive.' And that's good. I took that attitude right into cycling. And that's bad."

Armstrong made some true statements. "I didn't invent the [doping] culture," he said. "But I didn't try to stop the culture."

He sounded sincere - but he has sounded sincere before - when he said he would "do anything to go back to that day" when the US Anti-Doping Agency charged him, and he declined to respond.

He repeated that he was flawed, and claimed he would "spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologising to people."

It is in his power to make good on this promise, which might bring some comfort. But the most frustrating aspect of his interview was his refusal to implicate anyone else, other than in very reluctantly accepting that Michele Ferrari did more than supply him with training plans.

In fact, considering the planning that must have gone into his meeting with Oprah, and how carefully he must have thought about how to take those difficult first steps on the road to redemption, he overlooked something fundamental.

The lesson of previous sinners-turned-saints is that the only way to redemption is to dump others in it. Would Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis be hailed in some quarters as whistle-blowing heroes - and indeed victims - had they only confessed to their own cheating?

Of course not. It is an unsavoury truth, but Armstrong's only hope is to tell a wider story than his own: who knew what; who helped him; who supplied him.

Armstrong said he would willingly take part in a truth and reconciliation commission, and that should be encouraged, even if it allows him some measure of rehabilitation, because vilifying him and ostracising him would be counter-productive.

He still holds the keys to too many doors.

Twitter.com/richardmoore73

Comments (1)

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Delfosse Rob says...

The Brits have always written the best Armstrong analysis. More objective. Even Rick Reilly will admit that now. Lance is perfectly capable of digging his own grave, but when he employed the giant legal team with their heavy equipment, the digging began in earnest. It will take just as much time, effort, and finance to fill it in.

Posted 15:55 18th January 2013

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Add Comment*

Send us your views

Are you a Sky Sports subscriber?

*All fields required, your email address will be kept private

back to top

Other Experts:

Latest Posts in :

Alex Ferguson

King James reigns

Alex Ferguson celebrates a wacky, smile-inducing year in US sport - and salutes Miami's LeBron James....

comments

Alex Ferguson

Start your engines!

Alex Ferguson predicts who will triumph in NASCAR's showpiece race, the Daytona 500....

comments

Alex Ferguson

Clowney's no joke

US sports expert Alex Ferguson profiles Jadeveon Clowney, the biggest defensive pick of the draft....

Alex Ferguson

Call of the century

Spacemen Portland pick Bowie over Jordan - Alex Ferguson ranks the biggest decisions in US Sport....

comments

Alex Ferguson

A perfect union?

Alex Ferguson looks at the possible unionisation of college football and how he would handle the issue....

Alex Ferguson

Independence aces

Alex Ferguson kicks off his Independence Day fun by picking his 20 best bits of American sport....

comments

Jeff Stelling

Battle for survival

Jeff Stelling hopes Sunderland can scrape to survival like his beloved Hartlepool did this week....

Paul Merson

Arsenal must win

Paul Merson says Arsenal have to have a right go and beat West Ham to keep their top-four bid alive....

Jamie Redknapp

Double delight?

A year on from 'bite-ban', Luis Suarez should clinch the title and PFA Award, says Jamie Redknapp....

Ed Chamberlin

Van the man?

Ed Chamberlin explains why Tejay van Garderen is capable of plucking the Tour de France's Yellow Jersey....

comments

Peter Beagrie

Transfer target

Beags says top sides are after Ross McCormack and picks his Championship boss of the season....

Stuart Barnes

Rhythm and flow

Stuart Barnes says video referees are ruining the rhythm of games and causing too many delays....

Luke Dorn

Obstructing the law

When is obstruction not obstruction? Luke Dorn offers up an easier option to replace the current ruling....

Bob Willis

Away for a while

Bob Willis thinks Jonathan Trott will be absent from England duty for some time following his relapse....

Rob Lee

Out of the woods

Rob Lee heralds the return to form of Lee Westwood and says he could yet win multiple majors....

Rob Lee

Pinky and perky

Rob Lee blogs on his vivid Masters Breakfast attire and the men that made waves at Augusta National....

Barry Cowan

Barcelona bounce

Barry Cowan says Rafa Nadal must bounce back in Barcelona and hails the form of Stan Wawrinka....

Mark Petchey

Fillip for Ferrer

Mark Petchey marvels at David Ferrer's win over Rafael Nadal but downplays it's long-term significance....

Alex Hammond

Strong to the finish

Alex Hammond previews the action at Sandown, including the final day of the National Hunt season....

Alex Hammond

Just Cause

Alex Hammond reveals her tips for the Irish Grand National and the other decent racing in Ireland this weeend....

Alex Hammond

Going the distance

Marathon entrant Alex Hammond previews the Newbury action and Scottish National meeting at Ayr....

Glenn McCrory

Change is coming

The Klitschko brothers' heavyweight domination will be over within two years, says Glenn McCrory....

Johnny Nelson

Battle of Manchester

From Crolla's derby delight to Munroe's emotional farewell - Saturday had it all, says Johnny Nelson....

Glenn McCrory

Manny happy returns

Manny Pacquiao is back to his best and could yet get it on with Floyd Mayweather, says Glenn McCrory....

View from America

The Fog of War

Simon Veness reviews the "torturous" hype ahead of the NFL Draft and why it's so hard to predict....

Neal Foulds

Trump tip

Ronnie O'Sullivan is favourite for the Worlds - but Judd Trump could spring a shock, says Neal Foulds....

Neal Foulds

Night at the Circus

Neal Foulds is looking forward to another fun, raucous Snooker Shoot-Out - but can't pick a winner....

comments

Neal Foulds

Simply the best?

Five-time Masters champion Ronnie O'Sullivan may be the best snooker player ever, says Neal Foulds....

comments

Kelvin Tatum

Gear shift

Wolverhampton and Belle Vue will want to kick-start their seasons on Tuesday night, says Kelvin....

Kelvin Tatum

The contenders

Kelvin Tatum runs through the teams and riders ahead of the 2014 Elite League Speedway season....

Kelvin Tatum

Kelvin's 2013 Review

Kelvin Tatum salutes Poole's hierarchy and Tai Woffinden in his round-up of the speedway season....

comments

Richard Moore

The final curtain

Richard Moore reflects on Sunday's Closing Ceremony to an unforgettable Olympic Games......

comments

Richard Moore

A lasting golden glow

Richard Moore suggests all the British Olympians should visit schools and talk about their experiences....

comments

Richard Moore

Favourite Froome

Richard Moore reveals his predictions for the 100th Tour de France, which starts on Saturday....

comments

Wayne McCullough

Wonderful Davis

Wayne McCullough watched Antonio Rogerio Nogueria take on Phil Davis at UFC Fight Night 24. ...

0 comments

Wayne McCullough

Jones shines bright

Wayne McCullough was highly impressed as the talented Jon Jones made short work of Mauricio Rua....

2 comments

Wayne McCullough

A bloody marvel

Wayne McCullough salutes Diego Sanchez as he edges out Martin Kampmann in a UFC humdinger....

0 comments