Sunday, January 13, 2013

What Could He Possibly Say?

So Lance Armstrong is going to go on Oprah and tell the world that he did something, something that for more than a decade he's been insisting he didn't do.  I'll confess to being an Armstrong fan.  I was a Gren LeMond fan way back when and when Armstrong hooked up with US Postal and put US Cycling on the rise again I was certainly excited.  And when he won year after year I was very excited.  But most importantly when he said "what am I on?  I'm on my bike." I believed him.

When he retired and people started to leak stories I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  I used to think: how could it possibly be true when he has so energetically denied all claims, how could he be dirty and jeopardize all the good he does as a public figure?  I also remember thinking that if he did come up dirty that it would be the biggest betrayal by an athlete of their fans in the history of sports.

I guess I wasn't paying attention to Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds or Marion Jones.  Interestingly all these folks that come up as doping after the fact all have a great impact on public following of the sports in real time, and often although there is talk during the achievements, people don't seem to let it get in the way of enjoying the performances.

So it is going to fall apart this week.  Armstrong wants to compete in triathlons and in marathons and for that he needs to come clean.  And so I am sitting here wondering what he could possibly say that would leave him in a better place than he currently sits.

There's just one way I think it can work.  He has to come up and insist that he didn't actually break the rules.  That in some way what he'd done was really American.  That like paying your taxes, if you don't get caught that you didn't do anything wrong, that he's not responsible for enforcement and that if the regulators had been doing their jobs that maybe they would have caught him and then possibly things would have come out differently.  It's like how in football you can hold as long as the referee doesn't catch you.

He could come out and say that he did do everything he possibly could within the absolute letter of the rules, that he had a team of trainers, doctors, lawyers, and operatives that worked with him and his team to stay just far enough ahead of enforcement that he could win and not get caught.  He could say absolutely he violated the spirit of the rules, but that winners, that Americans find a way, they are not bound by the spirit of the thing but rather that they look for every inch, every edge, every possible way to enhance their chances of winning without being caught.

He could say that when he accused officials of having a vendetta against him that clearly they were acting out of an incredible feeling of impotence over knowing he must have been doing something but at never being able to prove it.  He could say it would have been one thing if they could have proved it at the time, but since it took them years to put together anything resembling a case that his lifetime ban is just unfair - un-American.

I guess he could say that and then he'd just be the most alpha of alpha people and it would explain all of his prior statements on the grounds that he actually believed he was within the letter of the rules.

I guess.

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