Lance Armstrong- Behind the Handsome Face
I watched the televised interviews intently. Lance Armstrong was one of my favorite athletes. Not only did I tell my friends that I’d donate $1000 to his Livestrong foundation if I could just feel the muscles in his legs (lol:), but I watched all of his Tour de France wins TWICE. In the morning live and the exact same coverage again at night. I also believed in his innocence and thought he was the real deal.
My conclusion after the interviews. Lance Armstrong is a sociopath. There were telltale details within his confession that confirm his inability to feel empathy for others and an absence of social conscience. His actions characterized by chronic and continous lying in which the rights of others were violated.
I couldn’t help but experience detailed flashbacks of my work with sexual abuse perpertrators. In the midst of their confessions, verbal expressions of remorse, acknowledgement of guilt, they would mention the lacy dress the 9 year old little girl was wearing and how it felt to have her on their lap. Sickening stuff.
Here are the key parts of his interview I found very revealing.
When Lance was asked about his recent phone call with Betsy Andreu, the wife of a former teammate and close friend he betrayed, he refused to validate that he disclosed to his cancer doctors that he had used banned substances in her presence. Stating he had agreed to keep the phone call confidential. Yet Betsy denied this vow of privacy and couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t admit to it. Just another example of selfish self preservation.
He then volunteered to Oprah, without provocation, that he told Betsy Andreu that he was sorry he had called her nasty names but wanted her to know that he didn’t call her “fat”. This was so revealing that my mouth dropped open. To even think, let alone say, this comment to a friend he did everything in his power to destroy, shows he has no capacity for empathy. Incapable of real remorse, he picked out this insignificant detail to tell his friend as if her acknowledgement that the media fabricated that lessened his offenses. That’s sick.
Another revealing moment was when Oprah asked him if Emma O’Reilly, the masseuse whom he vilified and financially destroyed, was one of the victims of his lawsuits. He wasn’t sure. “Probably,” he said. “We sued so many people so I’m sure we probably did.” You’re doing the most important interview of your life to confess your sins, and you weren’t even debriefed on who you sued! Talk about rubbing salt in wounds of your victims! Emma O’Reilly was surely watching and finally vindicated that she was telling the truth all along, and the perpetrator that wrongfully sued her thinks the detail of her financial ruin doesn’t matter?
What about the adament denials that he doped in 2009 and 2010. The blood tests supposedly prove otherwise. His resoluteness is convincing. As it was before. Those replays of his denials on camera and under oath convince me that he believed his own lies. That’s why he was so good at it.
During the entire 2 part interview, it sounded like a man who’s just now trying to wrap his head around the idea that he has been lying. The whole saga seems less like an orchestrated cover-up and more sociopathic. He used the words “we” and “it” repeatedly as if his choices were influenced by external controls.
When he spoke of his children, he appeared empathetic. Telling his son, Luke, not to defend him anymore, was obviously painful. And the feelings he expressed appeared real. But where was the empathy for his children, his ex-wife Kristin, during all these years of lies? Absent.
Just prior to the Oprah interview, I re-posted What We Can Learn When Our Heroes Fall about the effects that may have contributed to Lance’s downfall. After seeing the interview, I believe all of these effects fueled the actual cause. I never once considered Lance might be a sociopath. Behind that handsome, likable face is a man with a real personality disorder.
Lance is an athlete. A bully, liar, and I suppose a thief. But he’s not a terrorist or mass murderer. Why the outrage and analysis over someone who really has little impact on most of our lives? I’ve given that a lot of thought.
Scandal and corruption are nothing new in sports, corporations or political circles. Cultures cultivate dreams. If you want to belong, participants make choices that align with the standards set by the top dogs. If Oprah interviewed the entire US Postal cycling team about doping, it would have just been another scandal revealed.
This story is about a man we can’t understand.
We want to believe that no one is capable of being as self serving as Lance Armstrong, Bernie Madoff and Robert Courtney (the pharmacist who diluted cancer saving drugs to pocket more money). It rips at our moral fibers. It adds another filter to our eyes and ears that we didn’t ask for–that we don’t want. We’ve got enough filters in our lives already.
We want to trust our judgment of people. Skepticism begs us to pause and pull back the curtain over and over again. Are we certain? Can we be sure? The answer is clearly no. Doubt can be paralyzing when betrayal feels personal.
Lance has climbed plenty of hills and battled back from near death. Hopefully his therapist is as good as his bike mechanic. For the sake of his five innocent children and all those people impacted by his egregious behavior, let’s hope he can blaze a trail toward redemption.