Lance Armstrong's pending "jailhouse" confession: Do we care?

Can a Lance Armstrong confession add anything to what we already know? Should we believe anything he says? Should we care? Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, DC, January 7, 2013 — Can a Lance Armstrong confession add value to what we already know? 

Lance Armstrong is not behind bars, but he is clearly in a prison of his own creation, and now he wants out.

The New York Times reported Friday that Armstrong is considering coming forward with the truth about his use of performance-enhancing drugs spanning more than a decade, his entire pro-cycling career.

The source also indicated the potential reason for Armstrong’s decision to finally come clean: He wants to compete again.

Ever since the late 1990s when Armstrong was first accused of using performance enhancing drugs, Armstrong has denied such allegations. He professed his innocence time after time and proclaimed he was, in fact, the victim of a relentless witch hunt by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency hell-bent on destroying his reputation and his cycling career.

Finally in October 2012, much to Armstrong’s dismay, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency successfully implicated Armstrong and several other cyclists, trainers, and team doctors/physicians in the most elaborate and successful doping conspiracy in the history of cycling. The agency findings were reported in a 1000-page document and distributed publicly.

Within hours of the distribution of the report, sponsors dropped Armstrong, donors stopped writing checks, and fans became angry. The evidence was overwhelming and convincing. Even Armstrong’s long-time supporters were unable to explain away the results of the investigation. Confusion set in.

Many wanted to believe Armstrong was innocent and that his seven Tour de France victories were due to hard work, dedication, and passion. Armstrong represented the hero’s hero for so long. But the report shattered that illusion and many were left reeling and fighting between reality and disbelief. Armstrong was never a victim as he often cried.

On the contrary, Lance Armstrong perpetrated many crimes, including the crime of breaking the public trust, which cannot be prosecuted.

Did you buy a Livestrong bracelet? Why? If you answered because you wanted to support a good cause, did you also support other good causes like anti-domestic violence campaigns or the scholarship foundation at your child’s school?

We need to be clear and honest with ourselves. We bought the bracelets because of the man behind the brand. Unfortunately, we did not realize that the man was wearing a mask. We were all duped into thinking this man who had battled and defeated testicular cancer and had gone on to win the most prestigious bike race in the world not once but seven times, was a mortal superhero. We were fooled into believing he had won as a result of his own sheer determination, will, drive, and passion.

Many teachers, politicians, parents, and care givers used Armstrong’s story to illustrate how anything is possible if we believe and that there is no need to cheat to succeed. Many “clean” athletes looked to Armstrong as a role model for their own successes on the field and on the course.

It was all a mirage.

Now, news of a pending confession leaves many wondering “why now?” Why come forward now? He had years to clear his conscience, to be remorseful and honest and to compete without the help of drugs. The obvious answer is he wants a chance to compete again. Currently, Armstrong is not allowed to compete, but with a confession, the World Anti-Doping rules permit a reduction of penalties. Everyone deserves a second chance, right?

Do we really care what he has to say now? And is it really a confession and admittance if all can be proven without Armstrong’s words? Is the world going to allow him to insult our faith and trust again by giving him the podium to tell his story? Should we believe his story? Do we really care?

Like anyone found guilty of a crime, the perpetrator must deal with the consequences. For Armstrong, the imposed life-time ban from competition may seem harsh and unfair. After all, he was not the only cyclist who cheated. But he is the only cheater who lied with impunity for years in order to make millions off of unsuspecting supporters and fans. He lied for self-serving reasons. Is his truth also self-serving?

“When someone doesn’t change, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” says Sandra L. Brown, MA, Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education.

Maybe the first and only question we should ask Mr. Armstrong is “Have you changed?”

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Paula Carrasquillo

Ms. Carrasquillo lives and works in the Washington, D.C. area. She earned a master's degree in communication and adult education from Regis University in Denver, Colo. and a bachelor’s degree in English from Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Md. In addition to her column for The Washington Times Communities, Ms. Carrasquillo contributes and edits stories for various online outlets including Elephant JournalPaula's Pontifications, and Places to Yoga. She also works as a Web editor and analyst for a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Bethesda, Md. In May 2012, Ms. Carrasquillo published her first novelette, Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath. Visit her online portfolio to learn more about her education, career experiences, and her next book.

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