January 17, 2013

Sorry, Texans, cycling fans, some libs — no sympathy for #Lance (updated)

Lance and Oprah, together forever in eternity?/Yahoo Sports
I don't need to see Oprah's "interview," because I know that she didn't ask one single one of the questions Dan Wetzel wishes she would have.

Read Dan's list of Armstrong's thuggery. And, yes, that's the word I use. His actions are consistently worse than Barry Bonds' were. Hmm, maybe newly-minted mountain biker Bonds showed Lance something about roiding? Or Lance showed him something about EPO doping? Who knows? They apparently have at least some degree of connectedness, beyond cheating.

Of course, Oprah is now saying Lance "did not come clean in the manner I expected, but more clean than that.

That said, a child rapist could admit to being a human being and Oprah would give him credit for something. Add to it that she's now going to spread the interview over two shows and I smell a craven search for ratings, and advertisers.

(Update, Jan. 17: Yep, Oprah's hyperbole struck again. Lance didn't really make that much of a confession. That's the shorter version.

Longer version? The Guardian live-blogged the whole thing. It's clear that Lance pulled at her emotional putty a few times, and stretched her alleged tough-asking interview prep into a blob of mush. Gee, what a shock.

And, Wetzel has a follow-up that, among other things, calls Lance "sociopathic." Bingo!)

(Update, April 23: Not sure whether sociopathy or what was the driving reason, but Lance turned down a possibility where he could have kept five of his formerly seven Tour de France titles, by cooperating with anti-doping folks.)

Getting back to what Dan Wetzel hoped Oprah would ask, though — I partially disagree with Wetzel. Lance's doping was also a fraud for cancer recovery. Many people who wanted to believe in not only some degree of recovery but "as good as before" got deceived by Lance's "better than before." (And Oprah apparently asked him bupkis about that.)

And, if they were deceived enough to give money to him rather than, say, the American Cancer Society, which surely has a lower "overhead," then, the cause of cancer research might indeed have been hurt.

Because, while Livestrong has publicized issues of cancer among various minorities and such, and it sounds good, that is his bottom line — cancer awareness, which is different than funding research. If "awareness" leads more people to change behaviors, get tested, etc., it helps, no doubt. I'm not trashing promoting awareness. I'm just saying that, for the buck, research, whether on causes or treatment, has a bigger bang. Also, re the "overhead" issue, the Ad Council does PSAs, etc., some in conjunction with folks like the Cancer Society, that promote "awareness."

And, let's not forget Relay for Life, which hits small towns across America year in and year out. And certainly has less overhead than Livestrong, and often involves minorities.

That said, Wetzel does raise an interesting question related to cancer.

That's the issue of wondering if Lance doped pre-cancer and, if he did, whether we shouldn't wonder if that may have been contributory.

So, even if Armstrong makes a more thorough confession than Mark McGwire, who really didn't talk that much detail about the past, years after saying he didn't want to talk about it at all, let's not put him on a pedestal again.

To do so would be to fall too easily into the mythos of American self-help and public redemption movements. (Which, it appears, is exactly what Lance was trying to pull off and which Oprah, in her search for rating and stretching this into a two-parter, didn't mind.)

It's interesting. Sports that have less severe punishments (that's you, NFL and NBA) vs. baseball, cycling and Olympic sports, don't have this drama because with less punishment, there's less perceived need for redemption, too.

Meanwhile, ESPN's Grantland has a great post about the top 10 sports apologies — that never happened


Patriotic Voices said...

The man still beat cancer and raised awareness if not millions of dollars for cancer research. In my eyes....he can do no better. Who cares about the doping. Who watches cycling anyways?

Gadfly said...

"Patriot Voices" obviously didn't read that carefully. It's questionable how much Livestrong raises for research, not just "awareness." We don't know if maybe his doping didn't give himself cancer. And, the degree of his recovery may have indeed provided false hope. Plus, there's the "overhead" issue.

What if the Koch Bros. donated money to cancer "awareness" while building new, and dirty, refineries in Cancer Alley?