On Friday night, the word came down. The New York Times reported that Lance Armstrong was mulling whether he should confess to doping. The redoubtable Juliet Macur cited unnamed sources who said that Lance had reached out to USADA’s Travis Tygart about the possibility of a complete confession.
Part of Armstrong’s supposed motivation to confess is that he wants to get back to competing in triathlon and running. With his current lifetime ban, Armstrong can’t race in events sanctioned by bodies that follow the World Anti Doping Code. A confession might reduce the length of Armstrong’s lifetime ban to four to eight years.
It’s disingenuous… and weird. The inference is that Lance Armstrong simply wants to get back to putting on a number. And if he confesses, it’s all over, it’s OK, and everyone will forget. “All I want to do is get back to racing, like any other obsessed master blaster.” All is forgiven. A full detailed confession will make everything better.
Not so fast. What’s the real motivation?
Armstrong faces several lawsuits that, if he loses, would incur stiff financial liability. Any confession of doping would likely cost him if these lawsuits proceed.
Sport is riddled with stories of athletes receiving second chances, whether it’s coming back from injury, recovering from substance abuse or using banned methods. Who can forget Steve Howe or Virpi Kuitenen? But level at which Armstrong operated is head and shoulders above what preceded him. Penance is necessary, and that means serving time out of sport. Maybe even a lifetime.
See this essay in The Guardian for an alternate take.