Lance Armstrong has finally confessed to doping during the years he was winning the Tour de France, according to reports about an interview that Armstrong just gave with Oprah Winfrey.
The interview, which will air on Thursday, is already getting huge promotion. And even if all the details of Armstrong's confession are leaked before the interview airs, millions of people will likely watch just to see whether the confession--and Armstrong's apology, if any--seems genuine.
That Lance Armstrong doped is, at this point, no surprise.
The information turned up by years of investigation, and the extraordinary amount of evidence released by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency last summer, made that all but a certainty.
The only questions that remained were whether Armstrong would confess to doping, and, importantly, whether he would apologies to the many former teammates and friends he attacked over the years for telling the truth about him. The first question has now been answered.
For many Armstrong observers, his lying and trashing of former teammates and friends was actually more offensive than the doping. For years, most people have assumed that most of the leading riders in cycling were doping--and that they had to dope if they wanted to remain competitive. Although it was inspiring to think that one amazing athlete could win the Tour 7 times when everyone he was competing against was doping, that this story was fiction would not have come as a huge shock to anyone. If Lance Armstrong had never lied about doping, or attacked his friends, his reputation would probably have been quickly restored post-confession--just like those of the many other athletes who have admitted using performance-enhancing drugs.
But Armstrong did lie. Repeatedly. And he trashed many of the people whose dedication and efforts made it possible for him to win his races.
So if Armstrong does not clearly and genuinely apologize to all of these people, he will still have a lot to answer for. And millions of people will likely conclude that this confession is just another PR move that's all about Lance Armstrong. In other words, that he hasn't really learned anything.
If Armstrong does apologize, however--if he tells his entire story from beginning to end and accepts the consequences--he will likely be given another chance. Armstrong's ability to inspire people and accomplish amazing things is not in dispute. If anyone can come back from something like this and go on to accomplish more amazing things, it is Lance Armstrong.
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