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Volkskrant, The Netherlands

Do Not Be Surprised If Lance
Reforms, or Presents Himself
as Candidate for Governor

By Bram Bakker

Translated By Nikki Rosenberg

21 January 2013

Edited by Vic­to­ria Denholm

The Netherlands - Volkskrant - Original Article (Dutch)

The interview with Oprah was the start of a long lasting campaign to make Armstrong the boss of the jungle again, according to psychiatrist Bram Bakker.

My late grandmother would not have had to watch Oprah’s interview with Lance Armstrong for long. She would have said: “If you give such a man a finger, he’ll take your whole hand.” Most people who saw one or both parts of the media spectacle presumably agree. It was a well-directed and neatly acted out play, in which both players unfortunately stuck to the script. It would have been fun if Oprah would have unexpectedly said: “You are actually an enormously arrogant man,” or if Armstrong halfway through the interview thought: “I am just going to ignore all the juridical advice and I am going to tell it exactly as it was, then my conscience will not bother me anymore.”


This did not happen, primarily due to business interests of both parties and because Lance does not naturally have such a conscience. In their reviews the journalists took the role of psychiatrists in the public to diagnose the event. “Narcissist” and “psychopath” were the most frequently used qualifications, and under both of these conditions the conscience does not play a big role. The most important objection of every psychiatric label related to Armstrong, who recently has been called the most notorious doping sinner in the history of cycling, is that it does not seem to bother him. With a psychotic disturbance, the most important criteria is that the victim is suffering from it; suffering is definitely something Lance is not showing.

With tightly concealed irritation he asked why he could not run the Chicago marathon with 40,000 others on his 50th, when other doping sinners in his sport only got a six-month suspension. If you think about it, it is strange, and that is exactly what Lance was trying to get at: He did what everyone else did, is that really so special?

Anyone who has delved into Armstrong before knows that the man wants to be the best at everything he does. His drive and perfectionism were unmatched; that he did the same as other members of his sport should not come as a surprise. How we should interpret that is a guess. His troubled youth will probably have something to do with it; his history of illness will also have had an influence.

The Boss of the Jungle
I would rather ask a biologist specialized in apes, such as Frans de Waal, how he views Armstrong. The image I have of the man is that he is a gorilla who will do anything to be the boss of the jungle, even when he has been kicked out.

In 2006, I ran next to — or actually behind — Armstrong for a little while in the New York City Marathon. “There is a case of great attraction, as well as above average qualities to repel people,” I wrote then. In 2013 it has not changed. The people who are annoyed by Armstrong, and all the attention he receives, will be invisible compared to the people who still admire the man. The interview with Oprah was the start of a long-lasting campaign to make Armstrong the boss of the jungle again. Do not be surprised if he demonstratively reforms to Christianity, or presents himself as a candidate to be governor of Texas.

“Winning is not the most important thing [for Lance Armstrong], it is the only thing…” This is a notorious saying from American history, the land where a B-movie actor and an ex-alcoholic made it to presidency.



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