In early January 2004, we’d been granted a one-one interview with Lance himself at the USPS training camp in Solvang CA, and as a two year-old website with a few readers, we were beside ourselves with glee at the opportunity granted to us by the biggest pro cycling star of his time.
How times have changed. How opinions change. How Lance has changed.
Okay… maybe we’ll take two outta three.
Lance was at the height of his reign in 2005, seen here at the Tour of Courage.
Back in 2004, Lance was at the height of his career – and powers – and like almost every other cycling media on the planet – we needed him more than he needed us. Our two part interview with Lance quickly became the biggest story we’d ever done, and it got so many reads that my server was choked to within an inch of its life – and the site simply would not load at times.
Randall Butler, (who payed his own way to fly from Toronto to Solvang just to interview Lance), focused his 15 minutes on racing and training. At the time we didn’t have nearly the mountain of evidence of Lance’s cheating that we do now, nor had Lance done many of the things that would show his truly villainous nature. It was easy to talk about racing, and that’s what we did. And yes – we wanted to be invited back.
And pretty much all the media were the same – many of whom tended to go easy on him when controversy arose, or even looked the other way, because Lance was good for business. Access to Lance meant more page views, more banners clicked, and more magazines sold.
But here we are 9 years later, and Lance Armstrong could not be any further from the top. By now we’ve all seen what kind of man he has turned out to be, and there’s no denying that his orchestrated talk with Oprah was set up purely to serve his own purposes (and hers too).
I think a big question is what he’ll do next. He’s got a lot of ground to make up, and a lot of wrongs to be righted. Ten years is a long time to treat people like crap. But it’s also a long time for the rest of us – public, media, anyone who’d listen – to hold Lance up on that pedestal and keep on supporting him.
I can’t see how his image can get any worse, the doping conviction, loss of his corporate sponsors, the bullying, and causing so much damage to the cancer fighting foundation he started. Regardless of what he says now, the only way it can get better is if the rest of us choose to believe what he says. (Oh wait – we already did that, turns out he was lying about that too.)
Whatever Lance tells us, it’ll be much less about his seeking forgiveness and redemption than it will be about his seeking public approval. It’s certainly not in his character to fade away, so he’ll be back to try something, sometime.
But an even bigger question is whether the rest of us will jump back on his bandwagon.
Being a fallen hero… rising from the ashes. Not a bad line of work if you can get it.
And it’s worked out pretty well for former US president Bill Clinton – he got a standing ovation at the Golden Globes. Granted, Lance’s behavior has been much more diabolical than Mr. Clinton’s, but they both lied and they both cheated.
Does anyone care about that any more? It seems not.
Maybe we should just forget about the whole thing – that seemed to work out pretty well for Dorothy, Toto, and the Wizard of Oz gang.
But I’m sure Lance has already thought of that.
Now, where’d I put those rose colored glasses…?