(Photo by Donald Miralle for LAVA Magazine)
I, like the rest of the general public, am eagerly anticipating the Lance Armstrong interview on the controversial topic of his doping with Oprah Winfrey this Thursday on January 17th. Lance was considered one of the greatest athletes in the world as well as the poster boy for the fight against cancer until he was was stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles last year for doping and playing a role in team-organized doping on his Tour de France cycling squads. His fall from grace, like so many other athletes, politicians, and public figures in the recent years, happened meteorically fast with the same familiar script of denial and then apology.
Winfrey, who discussed the interview on “CBS This Morning” today, said, “We were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers. I feel that he answered the questions in a way that he was ready. … He certainly had prepared himself for this moment. He brought it. He really did.” I love that both sides agreed to no leaking of details of the interview, but of course it’s been a free for all, which will probably cause the TV ratings for Oprah’s Interview on her OWN network to skyrocket. And way to juice it into two separate segments Oprah. It’s all good, I will probably DVR both segments and read about it when my wife’s issue of O comes in the mail…
This morning every talk show in San Diego was chattering about leaks about interview filmed Monday. People were calling into 1090 Sport Talk radio and comparing Lance’s wrongs to that of Tiger Woods‘ infidelities and Pete Rose‘s gambling. Isn’t that like comparing apples to oranges? Wood’s had a secret personal life that was very different that the one he projected to the public, Rose had a gambling addiction that blew up after his retirement from baseball, and Lance used performance enhancing drugs in a sport where EVERYONE on the podium uses them. It’s better to compare Lance’s situation to that of MLB Baseball in the late 90’s where Sosa and McGwire chase for the homerun record catapulted the sport to new heights. Everyone including Major League Baseball knew that these guys and alot of the players in the league were juicing at the time, but turned a blind eye and opened their wallets to endorsements and skyrocketing TV ratings.
The sport of cycling and the International Cycling Union (UCI) has probably benefitted as much as Lance Armstrong from his doping and 7 Tour wins, but didn’t hesitate to throw him under the bus and make an example of him. “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” Pat McQuaid, the president of the International Cycling Union, said at a news conference in Switzerland announcing the decision. “This is a landmark day for cycling.” Way to eradicate Lance and his wins from cycling history and replace his name with names of other known dopers as Tour de France champions. Maybe they should clean house of all dopers and their titles in their sport, and bring in tougher and more stringent standards across the board.
It’s hard to sit back and judge Lance’s accomplishments as an athlete, and totally disregard Lance’s fight against cancer. I had the great experience of having Lance give myself and writer Jay Prasuhn a personal tour of the Livestrong Foundation last April during our cover shoot for LAVA Magazine. Having had the unfortunate experience of family and friends die of cancer, including my dad, I can truthfully say I was moved at seeing Livestrong first hand, and realize that this is his legacy, not 7 Tour de France wins. You can only hope that this venerable foundation does not suffer because of the negative media onslaught on it’s founder.
At the end of the day, the Lance Armstrong doping scandal has the same old tired script that human nature and media just thrives and feeds upon: Man overcomes odds, rises to the top, falls to the bottom, and then has to rise from his ashes again. It’s just a matter of time before Hollywood produces a screenplay for this one and it becomes a blockbuster oscar winning movie. I just wonder who they would cast for Lance?