Quite annoyed this week. I rooted around the Internet and found the interview that Lance Armstrong did with Oprah. I didn’t stay up until 2am or anything – are you mad? It was everywhere though and therefore, quite easy to have a look at. First of all I have to say that I think Oprah did a sterling job. If Armstrong thought he was going to come into this and have Oprah stroke his thigh and talk about his “feelings” he seemed to have miscalculated. She demanded “yes-no” answers to her first set of questions most of which followed on from “Did you dope?” including “Did you dope for all of your Tour victories?” The answer was yes. I have to tell you that I have some sympathy for Armstrong. Obsessed by winning, he seemed to mentally move into a mythical world, where cheating was the norm and once you start you are in it for good. Of course, this is easy for me to say as I am not a cyclist trying to earn a living. (I say again – are you mad? Center Parcs nearly finished me.) Riding clean behind Armstrong and his team who were riding with the blood not only coursing round their veins but also coursing out of their bodies to have extra oxygen put in, must have been the definition of the word frustration.
I know it must seem a bit of a stretch to say there but for the Grace of God go any of us. What are the chances of someone like me leading a corrupt cycling team which ran doping stations in hotels all over the world? Slim I know, but the principle is the same. Life gives us a million chances a day to make the wrong decisions and if the people around us don’t challenge us and we seem to be getting away with it, sometimes we just carry on, eventually almost believing that it is ok.
I don’t think it’s that fact that he did it that wound me up. It’s more the way he behaved when it seemed that the fat lady was tuning up and the end was in sight. People began to testify against him and he responded with the most dreadful bullying and intimidation. Really nasty stuff. He called his masseuse a whore in front of the world’s press and got under the skin of another journalist by making disparaging remarks about his relationship with his dead son. Finally, he informed Oprah that he hadn’t been a bully before he had cancer, and in one master stroke offended all those who have cancer or care for those with cancer who have managed live with this awful disease thus far without turning into complete rat bags.
He behaved like a cornered animal, slashing out at anything that he felt threatened him and in a way I suppose that is understandable. However, I think that eventually, whatever we have done, the easiest thing to do, is to give in and say sorry. There is a grace and a relief in giving in and admitting that we were wrong, that we made a mistake. People who admit that they were wrong seem to have a dignity about them. Maybe it’s because they are wiser than us and have been brave enough to look at themselves harder than we can. People say that Lance Armstrong is looking for redemption – a chance to start again. The trouble is, that it is impossible to start again until we finish our unfinished business. Redemption can only happen after repentance – waking up and saying sorry and only then letting it go. It is, as they say, that old time religion.
“If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves A claim that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins – make a clean breast of them – he won’t let us down, he’ll be true to himself.
1 John 1:9