The slow, but sure re framing of Lance Armstrong. I won’t say ‘rehabilitation’. You can’t use the word ‘rehabilitation’ about a man who lied, cheated and bullied his way to the top. But there is an undeniable re framing of his place in cycling history and his ‘entitlement’ to his ‘achievements’. Less an assailant of sportsmanship and more a victim of a corrupt system?
No. No. NO.
When Armstrong fell from grace, it came as no surprise to me. If something looks too good to be true, it generally is – an adage that has served me well in all walks of life. I remember the wounded fans and the tears shed as the house of cards on which Armstrong’s myth was constructed suddenly tumbled down. But it came as no surprise to me at all. I also remember having conversations with fellow cyclists and insisting that this will not be the end of Armstrong. That he’ll go to ground, show contrition and mild remorse, try and reinforce his world view that actually it’s OK to cheat because that’s what others do and then. Then he’d bounce back forcefully.
And that’s exactly what’s happening now.
Armstrong is back to his old tactics; winning over some support, bullying others, hogging our attention and re framing the agenda. Personally, I wish he would be starved of the oxygen of publicity and left to stew in ignominy. His opinions should be expressed solely in empty rooms and his tour wins permanently and convincingly struck off. Let us all not forget, he lied, cheated and bullied his way to the top. To allow him some form – any form – of legitimacy is to legitimise the most extreme example of cheating in modern sporting history. As a coach and a parent, I find this utterly disgraceful. What sort of lesson is that for our future racers? Or indeed for anyone who wants to improve their lot? It’s wrong; Armstrong cheated everyone.