Confessions of a Brute
By Philippe Coste
Translated By Lindsey Cambridge
18 January 2013
Edited by Natalie Clager
France - L'Express - Original Article (French)
The show lasted a good hour and a half, peppered with syrupy commercials which paid full price for super primetime. The spectacle was troublesome. Whether Lance Armstrong admits from the beginning that his amazing story was a “big lie,” a deception nourished by the explosive cocktail of mega cheaters, the reveal won’t herald the grand theater of American redemptions but another more common show. It is a show in which the accused in a “docudrama” is in search of a deal with his accusers, or an almost criminally insignificant bargain, organized for his own immediate profit and that of the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Armstrong knows that at any moment his confessions could earn him a lawsuit as well as a damaging puncture to a fortune estimated at $100 million. Here’s the dilemma: By admitting his lies question after question and not without reticence, (“I don't even [know]. I'm sure we did.") the fallen champion hopes to wipe the slate clean and get another chance to leave a mark on the sports world. But he has wronged, bashed and dragged through the mud too many of the less famous and wealthy forced to testify against him. The resentment of his former devotees, their ongoing vengeance and their pack of lawyers are like a lead weight on the interview.
When Oprah asked him if he forced his teammates and his subordinates to take drugs, as several witnesses have affirmed, his responses alternated between outright denial and flimsy concessions. "No. I guess I could have but I never did. I was the leader of the team and the leader leads by example.”* Doping was the team’s agreement and Armstrong in fact seems to revisit onscreen, without soul-searching or excessive remorse, a bill of specifications that far exceeded the sport in order to “win-at-all-costs.” “I went in and just looked up the definition of cheat and the definition of cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe that they don't have. I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.” And now?
"I don't feel good. I was just on the attack. The territory was being threatened. The team was being threatened. I was on the attack," he acknowledges concerning the horrible treatment, the lawsuits, the insults and the defamation campaigns inflicted on the team masseuse as well as Betsy Andreu, the wife of his former teammate Frankie Andreu, who, in 1996, had heard Armstrong admit to the usage of EPO in front of the doctors treating his cancer. He called both of them in order to present his apologies and, since civil suits are in progress, try to mitigate the damage. But his eyes still shine with shame when the name Floyd Landis is mentioned. The disloyal snitch? The unforgiveable squealer? “Do I have remorse? Absolutely. Will it grow? Absolutely. This is the first step and these are my actions. I am paying the price, but I deserve it,” he concedes. Oprah’s show incorporated extracts from interviews with cold denials under oath. His code of honor escapes us.
*Editor’s note: This quote is actually in response to the question “If someone was not doing something to your satisfaction, could you get them fired?”
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