Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Getting it wrong on Lance

When Lance Armstrong announced that he was no longer contesting the USADA proceedings, I likened him to Pete Rose and said here that he would be just fine, that he would continue to proclaim his innocence and to remind everyone that no body had ever found him to have doped or used PEDs. I even said so on a radio interview, in response to the suggestion that marketing people had proclaimed him finished as a spokesman, fundraiser, and endorser.

It looks like I got this one very wrong. Yesterday's announcement that Armstrong had been dropped by Nike (which proclaimed itself shocked, shocked that the man who dominated a sport in which everyone doped had been doping himself) and that Armstrong had resigned from his own Livestrong Foundation suggests that he is going to suffer some major fallout. This comes in the wake of USADA releasing the report from its investigation, which laid out in great detail the evidence against Armstrong. Clearly one major sponsor wants nothing to do with him. And clearly either he or other leaders at the foundation believe he would be a drag on fundraising and other charitable efforts.

Perhaps, as Michael Wilbon argued on PTI last night, this is purgatory rather than hell, that Armstrong has to go away for a year or two, then emerge, admit to doping, and ask for forgiveness. In our culture of second chances, Wilbon insists, all be forgiven and Armstrong will be back on the scene as a public figure. Of course, that is what everyone insisted they wanted from Pete Rose and when Rose finally admitted to gambling, he was just buried further. Come back in a couple of years and we'll see.

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