Hey Lance. If you’re going to confess, you better do it right…

8 January 2013 Comments 16

Dear Lance,

So you’ve finally decided to speak out. Frankly, it’s not before time and I trust the hype, preparation and anticipation will be worth it. In fairness, by choosing to undertake a broadcast interview with Oprah Winfrey you have certainly guaranteed visibility for your much-awaited response and I trust Oprah’s professional instincts and journalistic credibility will not be compromised by any pre-emptive ‘deals’. I, for one, will be glued to the transmission but before we get into any detail on the potential content, let me say right here right now, do it properly or don’t bother.

The USADA report into doping, which ultimately led to you losing all seven of your Tour de France titles and the receipt of a lifetime ban, meant you were (quite rightly) internationally disgraced and condemned. The report claimed the activities you were involved in were; “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”. You had a chance to challenge the allegations, but you refused.

So why the apparent change of heart? If confession was always on the agenda you could have saved many months of vitriol. You could have ‘come clean’. You could have helped put cycling back on the right path. So why now? It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that your former race director, Johan Bruyneel is shortly going to give evidence to a WADA arbitration panel could it? Or that you want to be free to compete in triathlons and Ironman events that are run in accordance with the WADA code?

There has been much speculation about deals being done in the background to satisfy commercial partners and sponsors who might have legal recourse to recover money they’ve paid to you if you confessed that you cheated. And there’s also the issue of potential perjury charges after your declarations on oath that you were not involved in doping. Perhaps, just perhaps, the weeks since the USADA report was published have been taken up with deals to clear a path for unfettered confession? If so, then I fear this latest revelation is – not for the first time – all about you.

According to the New York Times, part of your incentive is to persuade the authorities to restore your eligibility to compete and resume an athletic career. If that’s true (and I have no reason to suggest otherwise) the only way you can attempt to restore any level of credibility and respect is to cover off EVERY element of this sorry saga. For USADA and WADA to reduce your punishment would be a high stakes, high risk decision for them. For you to spin that wheel in your favour, you’ll need to put ALL of your chips on the table.

The process of truth and reconciliation will, in time, bring out all the facts, so any admission has to be full and unrestricted. Anything conveniently left out that’s revealed at some point in the future, will put you in a place from which there is DEFINITELY no way back. As its stands, the path to redemption is hard enough. This really is the once-only lifetime opportunity.

There is, of course, an important human element to all this. In refusing to confess in the first place, you imposed further torment on those who have been brave enough to speak out and reveal experiences of the deceit, manipulation and bullying that were designed to hide your secret. These include people who were forced to comply with your deception or face losing their jobs on the team. All of their evidence undoubtedly inspired the conclusions in the USADA report and it was no doubt a cathartic exercise from their own perspective. Among those I’m talking about are people such as your own former masseuse Emma O’Reilly who you lovingly referred to as a ‘whore’ whilst under oath in your SCA testimony, former French pro cyclist Christophe Bassons who you bullied out of the TdF, 3-time winner of the TdF and living legend Greg LeMond, journalists of integrity Paul Kimmage and David Walsh plus former team mates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton who were dragged into the mix as part of the U.S. Postal Services team.

For me Lance, its far more important that those who were trapped in the web receive a full apology and exoneration than it is for you to extract the sympathy vote just so you can compete in future triathlons and relaunch your career to earn sponsorship dollars.

A confession at this stage of the proceedings is NOT about what you want. If that’s the deal, then forget it. Your confession is about a sport that has been tainted. It’s about the sponsors and fans who have been deceived. It’s about the level of cynicism that now exists in world cycling because no-one believes anything a rider says any more. And it’s about the colleagues, team-mates and support staff who deserve the return of their professional dignity. Confession is not about Lance Armstrong anymore, its about everything and everyone else. And if there are deals being done in the background that would lead to the re-instatement of professional privileges and athletic eligibility, you’d better be prepared to give back dignity and honour to the sport, team mates and colleagues you snared in your web of deceit.

It really is that simple.

16 comments on "Hey Lance. If you’re going to confess, you better do it right…"

  1. Matt Moxon on 8 January 2013

    Wise words. An apology is not an apology if it is done to make your life easier and not help those you have wronged

  2. Lisa Griffin on 8 January 2013

    Well Done JaimIe, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Apologizing is one thing but will he ever be able to be trusted again??

  3. Linds on 8 January 2013

    Did Contador confess? Not once. He was suspended (2 years I think) then returned to cycling. The overwhelming evidence points to the fact that Lance was a drug cheat. But the culture of the sport was corrupt, what Lance did was to be better at it than the rest. The punishment outstips the crime. The cyclinng culture made the drug cheats and then made heros of the winners, thereby backing the athletes into a darker corner.
    SHould Lance be sanctiuoned? Absolutely. SHould he be crucified? Definately not. Let him get on with his life. Let him compete after he has served his time.
    And lets go after the real criminals – the people that allowed the sport to get into such a state and turned a blind eye when it suited them.

  4. Rob on 8 January 2013

    Lance go back under the rock you crawled out from. No one wants to hear your confession. You are a proven liar; what makes us think that you will now start telling the truth.

    We should just erase you from the sport.

  5. La Vela on 9 January 2013

    Dear Mr Fuller,
    My first instinct is to ask, ever so politely, you to “zip it!”. Your article is a tidy read for the avid follower of the sport but you make a persuasive argument for, and list a bunch of not insignificant reasons, not making a full and frank confession. Or are you hoping that reverse psychology will work on his enormous childish ego?

  6. Thiagan on 9 January 2013

    Someone a very long time ago said, I quote “I am the Truth” The truth is eternal, forever. Very very few humans attempt to be eternal. Most of us lie, at least until you are caught and exposed. What is the point of asking anyone to admit such a lie? All of us humans must learn and admit that lies in all walks of life are destroying this planet. Isn’t that obvious? is it?

  7. Cam on 9 January 2013

    Just don’t jump and down on Oprah’s couch please Lance.

  8. Pingback: Lance Armstrong to confess all to Oprah? | ChicagoNow

  9. Tony S on 10 January 2013

    It does seem a little convenient/contrived that the confession appears to be coming out at a time when it benefits Lance most, and as David Millar says, it’s hardly likely to be a hard core interrogation.

    Still, you can’t blame the guy for trying to look out for himself, and it’s hardly like Lance was alone in all this . And it’s not like many of the others that have now come clean did so purely out of civic duty/the desire to set the record straight. They were put under pressure or told they couldn’t compete any more if they didn’t.

    For me, it comes back to your earlier theme around the administrators – how are the same guys that were at the helm during these dark years still able to sit in their comfy chairs drawing salaries?

  10. Nicky on 10 January 2013

    Well said Mr Fuller 🙂 and i do hope he does not jump up and down on the couch Cam lol

  11. Skippy on 10 January 2013

    Not expecting this to be posted since you no longer answer emails :

    This sums up my thoughts on Lance and his TV appearance :
    ” Lance Armstrong has less integrity than Bernie Madoff. Let the vultures at him.

    I think we’ve all heard enough from this charlatan. Can we all move on now, please?

    We just spent an entire election cycle forced to deal with another transparently mendacious, me-at-all-costs alpha male who came dangerously close to duping his way to the white house.

    Let’s call this behavior for what it is and do our part to not perpetuate it by banning this cheating perjurer from sport permanently and refusing to allow his slithering return to the limelight.

    If he pays back all of the money and spends some time in jail, I’d be happy to forgive him. Anything less simply dishonors sport. Talent or not, he cheated, he lied, he must pay the consequences. Any punishment less than that would be a travesty. And I don’t care if everyone else was doing it. That is no defense. Remember Nuremberg?

    Should he be using Oprah , to announce , that he is AGAIN suffering Cancer , WHY , would we want to know ? Was not PED usage the cause of the first bout of Cancer ?

    David Miller , the Guy you wanted in London has summed up Lance succingtly , and he should know , since they were buddies : ” It will be Totally Controlled Event “!

  12. Susan B on 13 January 2013

    Let’s hope Oprah digs deep to her past journalistic years and does the required research to make this a worthwhile and no holds barred interview. If we- the collective carers of the sport – of truth and sportsmanship in general email Oprah with the expressions above – including Jamie your article above particularly important are the others who have had to shoulder the fallout whilst he held his tongue – hopefully Oprah and her team will prevail to honour the opportunity they have been given to interview him and ask the questions, many have been wanting answered. This will be her time to Lance the boil!

  13. @dbsaia on 15 January 2013

    I agree with others; all the sudden LA is believable? NYTimes reports he may join the Landis whistleblower suit, as if getting enough disgraced liars together will make them more credible. im not a big Tygaart fan but he could be the last person standing among the gang of cheats.

    My dream ending to the LA era would be USADA weaseling out of any agreement to allow Armstrong to compete again. “Sorry Lance… we lied about that part. Surely you of all people can appreciate a little dishonesty when it gets the result you wanted! We wanted the coaches, the doctors, and especially the UCI officials; we got ’em and now if you’d kindly GO AWAY we’d appreciate it.”

  14. Pingback: Lance Armstrong Confesses to Oprah Winfrey

  15. Kyle Purdy on 18 January 2013

    Agree with you Jaimie – here’s the official “POV” our Foundation posted – interested in your thoughts!

    Because the Taylor Hooton Foundation is recognized as the nation’s leader on the topic of educating about the dangers of appearance and performance enhancing drugs (APEDs), we’ve been asked a lot lately about our thoughts on the Lance Armstrong confession. We’ve discussed this over the past several days, and the conclusion we came to is this:

    The important message isn’t really about Lance Armstrong. It’s about our kids.

    Sure, when an internationally known athlete gets caught doing something against the rules of their sport as well as against the law, it’s newsworthy to a lot of people. Especially after 15+ years of vehement denials and the ruining of countless lives along the way. But this really isn’t news – at least not surprising news to most people inside the world of cycling – or anyone who has seen a news report over the past few years.

    What’s really surprising to us at the THF is this: most people are virtually oblivious to the huge number of kids that have followed their role models’ lead and are using anabolic steroids or other APEDs. Most people believe that this problem is somehow limited to the ranks of elite athletes. We speak to coaches, athletic directors and school administrators at the middle school, high school and collegiate level every day and the vast majority of them tell us “steroid use is not a problem here.” When we ask them how they know this, the answers range from the absurd (“I’ve never once seen one of my athletes inject themselves with steroids”), to the well-meaning (“we talk to our students about the dangers of drug use”), to the honestly misinformed (“we did some random testing and none of my kids tested positive”).

    While the media is all over the Lance/Oprah interview, and thousands of parents, coaches and adult influencers around the country sit in their offices or homes satisfied that they don’t have a problem in their own schools, our kids are taking these drugs to look better and to perform better in competition, just like their “heroes” (role models) in professional sports. “How many kids?” you might ask. How about more than 1.5 million! That’s the number of middle school and high school aged kids (boys AND girls) who actually admitted using anabolic steroids in a recent study conducted by the Univ. of Minnesota and published in the Journal of Pediatrics. And that number doesn’t include those who are unknowingly ingesting steroids and other harmful substances via the unregulated dietary supplements they are purchasing over the counter in local health and vitamin stores.

    So yes, the real story is about our kids, not Lance.

    This is a teachable moment.

    Parents, coaches, and teachers should be using this incident as a reason to talk to our youth about why they shouldn’t be using steroids and other APEDs. We should not spend our time bemoaning the treatment that Lance has gotten, we should be focused on using our energy to educate our kids about the dangers of using these drugs as well as the immorality of cheating, reminding them that this behavior is illegal.

    Does education work? Sure it does, if it’s done properly, or done at all. Unfortunately, a study conducted by Proctor & Gamble revealed that 85% of kids at the HS level had never had anyone talk to them about the dangers of APEDs. They talk to them about smoking and alcohol and cocaine, etc., but not these drugs.

    That’s why the education programs from the Taylor Hooton Foundation are so important – our programs explain why these drugs shouldn’t be used, even if they weren’t banned from sport or illegal to use. And we know they are effective (visit or website to see the results of a survey conducted by the Federal Government that validates this point). You see, our goal is not to just address the use of these drugs by our kids, but to eliminate it. And we won’t rest until that happens.

    Random testing is not a panacea to dealing with this issue.

    Oh, one last thing. To those who feel that random testing is the answer or that feel that absence of a positive test results means that an athlete is not using steroids, we have a number for you: 500.

    That’s the number of drug tests Lance claims to have passed during his 15+ years of admitted doping without ever testing positive . . . .

    • Jaimie Fuller SKINS Chairman on 19 January 2013

      Thanks Kyle, excellent point. What really counts is the effect on the children. There is no accident that companies sponsor sports stars; it’s because of their influence and that influence is highest amongst children.
      This is the reason that we at SKINS have The True Spirit of Competition and Integrity in Sport as the values that underpin our brand. This is the reason that we are on this crusade to do something about the ongoing corruption within the sport of cycling – because of the effect that these actions have on our kids.
      As a parent i use the following litmus test regarding the actions of any athlete on the field: How would i feel to see my 16 year old son replicate their behavior? It works well for me and continually emphasises the need to hold these guys accountable.