On Thursday, Lance Armstrong is set to do a mea culpa with Oprah. Armstrong, the 7-time Tour de France winner, cancer survivor, and Livestrong founder will officially tell us that he won by cheating, that he inspired us with lies and that we marveled at a fake. Armstrong is also accused of more than bullying; he allegedly threatened and ruined the lives of his former teammates.
In order to win, Armstrong probably gave himself testicular cancer, endured countless blood transfusions in order to test negative for doping and have an unfair oxygen advantage during races, and cost the government-sponsored U.S. Postal Service Team millions. The United States Anti-Doping Agency has documented and painstakingly investigated Armstrong; which he has called a “witch hunt.” The USADA concluded Armstrong not only doped, but pressured cyclists to “use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices.” What that really means is that Armstrong pressured his teammates to dope so HE could win.
Armstrong was the best for a time. And then he was a loser — stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and the potential ban of participating in Olympic sporting events, which also includes triathlons.
Then there is Derek Jeter; the New York Yankees’ shortstop. About to enter his 19th season, Jeter has only played for one team throughout his professional career and has amassed 3,304 hits, five Golden Gloves, and an equal number of World Series rings and a .313 batting average. He is an anomaly in sporting today; virtually no one will spend almost 20 years with the same team in professional baseball. Jeter was a Rookie of the Year, but the Most Valuable Player award has remained elusive; no other active player with his stats has gone without it. The truth is that showiness often wins MVP awards; not humility or being a team player.
During the steroid-fueled home run derbies where writers, players, managers and owners turned a blind eye (i.e, when everyone was doing it), Jeter didn’t dope.
Derek Jeter may not be the best baseball player, but he will remain a winner.
I think of all of those yellow bracelets that funded cancer research. I remember my best friend’s father — as he was dying — wearing that banana rubber band around his wrist. I think of my friend and how much she believed that new treatments would save her father from the rare form of cancer that began in his arm and moved it’s way to his lungs. When he died he had one lung and a ravaged body and no hair. He was no longer a man, not even a shell, but a host for cancer.
Lance Armstrong is an asshole. Cancer made him a very rich man and cheating made him a god.
Everyone deserves a second chance and for apologies to be accepted. However, Armstrong’s sit down with Oprah benefits him: he wants to compete in triathlons. The first part of an apology starts not with you, but everyone else. Armstrong still does not get it. He is no Derek Jeter.
In a sea of everyone “doing it,” there are winners that do not. When there are cheats and bullies among us, there are good guys. What makes all the difference is doing what you love instead of begging, borrowing and stealing for adulation. Everyone knows Derek Jeter loves basesball and now everyone knows Lance Armstrong loves himself.