I would be remiss if I did not share a brief story here in the hours before Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey airs.
Those who follow my blog (or my life) know that I have been a fan of cycling for more than three decades--OK, probably since I got that Stingray bike for Christmas in 1964. I have followed Lance's career in amazement--pre-cancer, post-cancer and beyond--and I have defended him in the past. When riders of integrity--George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Frankie Andreu and others--came forward to finally tattle on him, I knew that the niggling thought in my sub-conscious--'But what if he really does dope?'--was in fact true.
When my youngest son (not Ezra, for those of you who know him) was a boy, he was constantly in trouble--like most boys--for doing hare-brained, goofball things like ironing his clothes on the linoleum floor in the kitchen because he was too lazy to drag out the ironing board. When all evidence pointed in his direction, he would lie, loudly and repeatedly, no matter how long he was interrogated. I could point to the evidence--in this case a burn mark in the flooring that exactly matched my steam iron--and remind him that only two of us lived in that house and that it wasn't something I had done, but he would adamantly deny any knowledge of the crime. Why? Because he is a man of stubborn pride. He simply couldn't bring himself to confess that he had done something so stupid. Sitting in a chair, looking me in the eye and telling me over and over he had no idea how it happened was easier for him than admitting he had made an enormous mistake.
All that is to say, I understand why, up until this time, Lance has denied using performance enhancing drugs. He is a man of stubborn pride. He wanted so badly to win and win again and not be called a cheater. And once he had won a Tour de France by doping, he knew he could never attempt to win without it, because by then everyone in the cycling world--including the sweetest, most moral of men--had stepped over the line. Which is what I suspect we will hear in today's interview. I would love to hear Lance--for his own sake--simply say, 'You know what? I screwed up. I cheated. It's no one's fault but my own. I've let a lot of people down, and I'm deeply sorry.' But I doubt we will hear that. We will hear excuses and blame, see shrugs and those hard-as-steel eyes, the windows to Lance's soul shuttered against the light of Truth.
Many times in my son's life--months or years after doing some knucklehead stunt, then denying it repeatedly--he would tell me, in a moment of sober clarity and confession, the truth. 'Yeah, Mom, I don't know why I lied. I did that. What an idiot.' And we would laugh together. He always knew--I pray he always knew--that I had forgiven him long ago.
And I forgive Lance. But I hope and pray that no governing athletic body ever allows him to compete anywhere ever again. Because if you can't--eventually--tell the truth, you simply can't be trusted.