Since going down in flames as a liar, a cheat and a dangerous individual who relished inflicting harm on others to save his own reputation, Lance Armstrong has attempted to soften his image.
After years of intimidation and strong-arm tactics that did actual damage to the lives of people who challenged him during his notorious doping scandal on his seven-year run atop the Tour de France, Armstrong eventually acknowledged defeat.
As part of his pseudo mea culpa, Armstrong attempted to show a lighter side seen in this cutesy bike repair video he posted in 2014.
But if there was any belief that Armstrong has actually changed who he is at his core, he put it to rest in a yet-to-be-aired interview with NBC’s Mike Tirico.
Lance Armstrong: I wouldn’t change a thing
USA Today previewed the interview. One thing is clear: Armstrong is still an awful human being.
“We did what we had to do to win,” Armstrong said, via USA Today. “It wasn’t legal, but I wouldn’t change a thing — whether it’s losing a bunch of money, going from hero to zero.
"I wouldn’t change the way I acted. I mean I would, but this is a longer answer. Primarily, I wouldn’t change the lessons that I’ve learned. I don’t learn all the lessons if I don’t act that way. I don’t get investigated and sanctioned if I don’t act the way I acted. If I just doped and didn’t say a thing, none of that would have happened. None of it. I was begging for, I was asking for them to come after me. It was an easy target.”
Armstrong justifies doping
Armstrong goes on to justify his behavior by explaining that he doped because it was the only way to maintain an edge in a sport where doping was rampant. Without doping, there was no chance to compete.
"I knew there were going to be knives at this fight," Armstrong said. "Not just fists. I knew there would be knives. I had knives, and then one day, people start showing up with guns. That's when you say, do I either fly back to Plano, Texas, and not know what you're going to do? Or do you walk to the gun store? I walked to the gun store. I didn't want to go home.
"I don't want to make excuses for myself that everybody did it or we never could have won without it. Those are all true, but the buck stops with me. I'm the one who made the decision to do what I did. I didn't want to go home, man. I was going to stay."
It wasn’t the doping that made Lance a pariah
That’s all well and fine. This isn’t a sanctimonious rant against the ills of doping and cheating in sports. Cycling was corrupt at its core, and in a large way, Armstrong’s doping was a symptom of that problem, not a cause.
But this isn’t about doping. It’s about Armstrong wrecking people’s lives to protect his own well being.
There are dopers in every professional sport. The steroid era in baseball reduced a generation of heroes into villains disdained by the sports world. But for the most part, these men were simply cheaters in a game.
Armstrong cheated more than his sport
You may not like Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds. Hell, Bonds may be a bonafide jerk. But these are men who simply looked for an illegal edge to enhance their careers playing a game that ultimately has no legitimate consequence.
Had Armstrong stopped there, he wouldn’t be the pariah he is today.
But he didn’t. He wantonly wrecked careers and ruined relationships of people who stood in his way using public and private tactics of intimidation and reputation smearing.
Count fellow riders Greg LeMond, Frankie Andreu and Scott Mercier among his victims.
He doubled down on his cheating the playing field by causing real-life harm.
And this is all without considering the massive disappointment he turned out to be for cancer survivors and yellow-bracelet supporters.
Despite a public downfall that included an Oprah appearance, the loss of a fortune and lame attempts to be charming to rehab his image, Armstrong is telling the world his true colors have not been altered.
He wouldn’t change a thing.
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