Commentary: Enough is enough. Let this be the end of Lance Armstrong’s story
Armstrong’s cheating was a ruse for the ages, and programs such as Sunday night’s actually help to keep it going, simply by allowing him to show his face and talk, and talk, and talk, writes USA Today columnist Christine Brennan.
Lance Armstrong, the most despicable cheater in sports history, is not a changed man. The first five seconds of a new documentary on ESPN reveal that hardly-shocking truth.
The documentary begins with these words from Armstrong: “When my life took the turn that it took …”
Not, “When I did all those terrible things…”
Or, “When I duped thousands of cancer victims and survivors and their families…”
Or, “When I cheated and lied and then started ruining people’s lives…”
No, his life just took a turn and somehow ran right into performance-enhancing drugs. It’s not Armstrong’s fault. It’s never his fault. It’s that darn turn in his life. It’s the turn’s fault.
After soldiering through two and a half months of a pandemic, what did we do to deserve this, another TV network giving Armstrong airtime to share childhood pictures and his inner-most feelings as he retells his enduringly reprehensible story?
Earlier in the day, Turner Sports’ celebrity golf match featuring Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning raised $20 million for COVID-19 relief. Then ESPN put this liar, this con man, this American embarrassment on the air and ruined the rest of the sports evening.
ESPN of course has the right to do whatever it wants with its documentaries, although its SportsCenter franchise might want to remember to add a little journalism as it promotes the next and thankfully last Armstrong installment.
“The man and the myth,” was the SportsCenter tease to Part 2 not long after Part 1 ended.
It’s a proven fact the guy cheated, lied, ruined lives, then lied some more. Where’s the myth?
Armstrong apologists, reduced to a tiny collection of hardcore believers now, always cry that everyone in cycling cheated, that Armstrong was just going along for the doping joy ride, that it’s unfair to single out their boy.
What they ignore is that Armstrong never was just another rider, or athlete. He was far more than a sports hero. After beating testicular cancer, he transcended sports and became the world’s most famous cancer survivor. He was an international icon, bringing his too-good-to-be-true story of survival and triumph to schools and banquets and hospitals, where patients read his books for inspiration as chemo dripped into their arms.
His wasn’t just any old cheating binge, the kind that baseball players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa delivered to America in the late 1990s and early 21st century. This wasn’t the fraud perpetrated by sprinters Ben Johnson or Marion Jones, as diabolical and awful as their doping and lies were.
This was a ruse for the ages, and programs such as Sunday night’s actually help to keep it going, simply by allowing him to show his face on a reputable sports network, and talk, and talk, and talk.
It’s not like he has anything new to say. The jury is not out on what kind of person Armstrong is. We don’t need two hours of television to help us. We lived through this. We know. Armstrong is the worst of us; a lying, cheating, vindictive scoundrel.
Nonetheless, for some reason, every now and then, a U.S. network decides it simply must devote time to him. It was NBC Sports last year. Now it’s ESPN.
Enough is enough, folks. Let this be the end of it.
Read more at usatoday.com