1 The “just laying around” picture
After the release of USADA’s damning report in October of 2012 and the media maelstrom that followed, Armstrong maintained radio silence. One month later, having stepped down as chairman of his Livestrong charity, Armstrong tweeted this photo of him “back in Austin just laying around” his living room with his seven winning Tour de France jerseys framed on the wall. No sweat there.
2 The bullying
Many examples of this. Armstrong made scurrilous insinuations against team soigneur Emma O’Reilly as an excuse for her hurried and uncomfortable departure from the team; vilified Paul Kimmage using cancer sufferers as a shield to evade probing questions, and as leader of the Tour de France effectively excommunicated Christophe Bassons from professional cycling.
Dozens of people were directly affected by Armstrong’s alpha male machoness, and millions more must feel disgusted by his manipulative use of a remarkable cancer survivor story as a smokescreen to bully many into silence.
3 The 1998 Tour de France
Referred to as the Tour du Dopage, the 1998 edition of the Tour de France might as well never have begun after police raids of team cars found enough drugs, blood bags and syringes to fill a pharmacy. Riders were tossed out, whole teams banned, stages abandoned, and results made void. The subsequent 1999 Tour de France was billed as the Tour of Renewal, a chance for cycling to demonstrate it was clean and intent on regaining a decent public image. It also happened to be the first Tour for Armstrong after his recovery from cancer. Needless to say, the 1999 Tour did not herald the clean era of racing Tour organisers promised the media.
4 The dodgy business deals
As we go further into the rabbit hole of the Armstrong scandal, information is emerging about the lucrative benefits Armstrong enjoyed as a result of his charity Livestrong, with shadowy deals and alleged conflicts of interests being reported in recent newspaper articles. Following money trails is the life blood of investigative reporting, and now that the floodgates are opening on Armstrong expect more to follow. Hell hath no fury like a long time silenced journalist. See the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal for facts and figures.
5 To date Armstrong has admitted to nothing
Last year the New York Times produced a startling graph highlighting the proven drug cheats who finished in the top ten of the Tour de France from 1998 to 2012. It makes for fairly sickening viewing. Armstrong, as leader of the peloton through most of this time, had remarkable influence on an entire generation of riders and in many ways the maillot jaune must bear the weight responsibility. Until today he has admitted to nothing. Now, having been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, his Olympic medal, his sponsorship deals, and all but his most deluded fans, he has decided he is ready to “admit” to doping. For whose benefit was this decision made, Armstrong or cycling?
It’s human to pity those who suddenly lose everything. It’s human to forgive those who admit their transgressions. It’s not to conclude that Armstrong will remain a man not so much sorry he cheated but sorry he was caught.
Today is not a day for pity and forgiveness.