Confessing to all those lies doesn't add up to telling the truth
ATHLETICS:I dreamt I saw Lance Armstrong again last night, as real as you or me, talking to Oprah Winfrey, and in the utmost misery. “So I lied, I lied,” he told her, in a voice without restraint, then went searching for the very soul that many years ago he sold.
I dreamt I saw him crying, head bowed now in shame, like the wicked and dastardly messenger of deceit, who so passionately hates his life. “And forgive me, mam,” he begged and pleaded, from the corners of his mouth, “for only now do I know what it is that I’ve done wrong.”
Then he cried and cried and cried again, from all the petty jealousies, then the dream turned darker still, as in the spirit of Knut Hamsun, he reviled himself for his sad confessions, shouted bitter epithets at himself, heaped priceless treasures of coarse abusive language on himself...
Then he lay back into the gutter, a willing object of derision, hardly aghast at all as we walked over him, trampling on his face, one by one...
Then the dream ended and I awoke, in darkness, turned on Discovery, at 2am, and there he was for real, with Oprah, the same, only a little older looking, Lance Armstrong who won the Tour de France seven times, back-to-back, sold out to Nike, Oakley and the US Postal Service, helped sell me and millions of others our first Trek racing bike, then came back four years later and tried to do it all over again.
“No holds barred,” they agreed with a smile, then instead of Cecil B DeMille’s rule for keeping the audience’s attention, to begin with an earthquake and work up to a climax, Oprah began with a few minor tremors and worked back to the rumours of a landslide – so that in the end, they inexplicably raised more questions than they actually answered, and for that it took the sort of quality performances that would have made DeMille himself proud.
No reviling, no bitter epithets, no shame, at least not in any convincing manner, but was it ever going to be any other way? So it took just five minutes for Armstrong to say “sorry,” another two minutes to first acknowledge his mistakes, followed by perhaps the most ironic, yet telling, admission, that he was “out of the business of calling someone a liar”, and yet followed by his enduring discomfort at even skirting around the truth, boldly justified by the simple realisation Armstrong was “not the most believable guy in the world right now”.
He certainly lived up to that, adamant that in no way did he dope during his comeback in 2009, when he finished third in the Tour, despite the reels of evidence that he did. Emotionally he was living up to the Armstrong of old, too, by his very lack of emotion – beyond perhaps the feeling he was somehow controllable and comfortable with it all.