Lance Armstrong to "mea culpa" on Oprah. Doubtful cyclist's "confession" will enhance his brand value
Finally after years of denying he used any performance enhancement drugs of any kind, Tour de France wonderman, Lance Armstrong has decided to come clean (to some degree) about his drug use. The 7- time champion has agreed to talk to Oprah after years of insisting he was being unfairly targeted and accused.
Most people over the past few years began to believe he was guilty but very astute at avoiding a need to confess. He was very outwardly agressive against any source who challenged him. What changed? After Lance was banned from participation in sanctioned events (Triathlons for example) his career came to a stand still. He is a great athlete no doubt and that is what he does...compete. Not being able to do so was of great concern to him.
The mea culpa he chooses to give this Thursday to Oprah will likely have some admissions but I doubt he will completely come-clean. The man worth $125 Million (supposedly) from his athletic success and championships in cycling is certainly to some degree at risk. But the man stripped of all his achievements (and dumped from his LiveStrong Foundation) has little else but money (not bad in its own right) to show for his efforts. I think a great athlete is always a great athlete even if a cheater and I suspect Lance "needs" competition to feel alive.
However, his integrity and brand are unquestionably damaged. Sure athletes who get into trouble mostly manage over time to improve their image to some degree. Marital issues seem to get resolved more easily than cheating at one's sport. Just ask Pete Rose who still after years of being banned from baseball still pines to be a part of the game in some way. Also notice how suspected drug enhanced NLB stars did not get elected into the Hall of Fame this year.
Given how much attention this case has received, unlike even Tiger Woods (whose image has still not recovered nor has his game) I think Armstrong's credibility and integrity are shot for his lifetime and few sponsors despite his achievement of beating cancer are likely to come back to him. Why should they?
He probably has some civil legal battles to fight once he comes out. Supposedly lawyers had advised him NOT to talk to anyone, certainly not Oprah. I actually don't think people will forget but with Oprah people might start to forgive. I will NOT be one of them.
As a counter point to this mea culpa event, ADFNA is being launched. The Association of Drug Free Natural Athletes. This organization, the first online community of drug free natural athletes, is the beginning of what I hope is a sports culture change in this country. (Full disclosure: this is a venture I founded to honor and celebrate athletes around the globe as a result of watching sports become tainted by drug enhanced athletes.) I know many great athletes of all ages who find competiting against so many drug enhanced competitors depressing.You might be surprised how many adult amateur athletes now cheat just to get on the podium even when no prize money is involved! It's time to give this group of natural athletes a chance at being part of a meaningful community of like minded athletes around the world.
Like millions I will watch Lance on Oprah but I do not expect to be surprised or to feel any compassion for this man, just pity and sadness.
Watching out for you everyday.