Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lance vs Oprah

I'm not a diehard Armstrong, cycling or Oprah fan... 
But I thought the two-part "interview" had enough historical importance to watch.

Oprah is one of the single most influential people on tv, but she's no Barbara Walters when it comes to journalistic interviews and frankly, I could care less about the OWN channel. Lets just say I saw this as a PR grab for Winfrey.

As for Lance, the only reason I can surmise for him doing this interview is damage control and a last ditch effort to be eligible to compete in sanctioned events.

But no matter where you stand on Lance, love, hate or indifferent, very few can argue the impact he had on bringing cycling beyond the European stage. Before his 7 ill-gotten titles, the Versus TV network and the like were not clambering to broadcast the Tour de France stage by stage. On the other side, it's not like hoards of people were talking about or much less watching cycling before Lance brought home the yellow jersey in the States.

Yes, cycling had a following, but those fans were the same people riding 80 miles a weekend already. Lance created a following and started a movement that drew non-cyclists off the coach and on to the saddle. Regardless of how he did it, Lance Armstrong enticed the average person in the US to tune in for the month of July and brought cycling to the world stage. Oh ya, he also raised hundreds of millions of dollars for SOME cancer research and as lot of cancer awareness.  Check out a few articles on what Livestrong does with their money. It's not all going to research, but does generally go to a good cause.

That's what intrigued me to watch. It was history unfolding on our tv. One of the most decorated cyclists ever and there he was admitting he cheated.

Now, some parts appeared genuine and some parts looked like crap. Lance was dancing around how he treated his teammates, ICU contributions and how do you end up sueing so many people that you forget who all you sued?

I think this interview was 6 months too early. Armstrong needs to sit down with USADA and negotiate a resolution if he really wants to come clean. Then he knows what he can and cannot say and can avoid being shifty with Oprah. I think the interview did more damage than good.

After watching both parts, here's the sticking points.

If I was diagnosed with cancer, given 50% chance of survival and survived, then I might have taken the needle to maximize every chance I had in life after that.  It's selfish, but not many people get a second chance. Would I want to be Lance Armstrong finishing 105 in the tour or win 7 straight? It's easy to judge when we don't have opportunities like he did. I'd like to say I would have the fortitude to stay clean, but I can't.

I was never a Lance Armstrong die hard fan. I came to realize from reading posts and tweets that I was a fan of the idea. Man survives near death from cancer and wins 7 Tour de France titles with superhuman tenacity and raises millions for cancer. Sounds good. I just glossed over Lance the person. No one is perfect, but it sucks to hear that most every nasty accusation is true to some extent. I'm not going to cry myself to sleep over it, but it was deflating to watch him cop to most of it.

It would be pure "train wreck" curiosity that keeps me paying attention.  Will Lance get his punishment reduced?  Will he detail how he and his team did it?  Will USADA let him back in?  will he lose even more money in court?  Could he possibly face federal charges?  Will he be able to compete in Ironman Triathlon races again?

Inquiring minds want to know.
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