LANCE Armstrong has much more to answer for than what he wants to tell the world in today’s interview with talk show queen Oprah Winfrey.
Let’s hope the interview, which stretches over more than two hours, begins with an apology.
But early reports indicate the disgraced cyclist wants to bargain, offering to testify against officials for the benefit of being allowed to participate in elite triathlon events.
Armstrong, however, has committed fraud and should be dealt with like any other person who has broken the law. Special treatment is not an option.
In Armstrong’s case, he has committed a series of serious offences which provides him with no room for leniency. Once billed as one of the greatest athletes of all time, he was idolised around the world and made an astonishing amount of money out of his reputation and results.
Book deals, appearance money, prizemoney, endorsements and sponsorships worth millions made him one of the pin-up boys of international sport. He denied the use of drugs when he was asked about his phenomenal record of success. He condemned the drug-takers and, when he was accused, successfully sued an English newspaper for tarnishing his reputation. His clean-cut image was not the real Lance Armstrong, and that was the first fabrication. Armstrong and those around him, along with others elsewhere, have done cycling a great disservice. The sport is in tatters. Cycling fans can trust no one, because even the cyclists supposedly competing drug-free are sullied by a scheme that has robbed the sport of its credibility.
International administrators must act to tidy up the sport once and for all.
The hero to young children and those with sporting ambition must be wiped not only from the record books, but also from the international stage, just like Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was when he was caught using performance-enhancing drugs to achieve his athletic milestones.
Armstrong will be fighting battles for years to come. Sponsors will want their money back, as will the English newspaper he successfully sued. Those who have paid him appearance money are justified in asking for it to be refunded. Then there is the prizemoney, which justifiably should be forwarded to those whose names are now on the official record of results.