Darth Armstrong

Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker, unmasked i...

Lance after Oprah

With a kid who loves Star Wars, I’ve become too familiar with the story of Aniken Skywalker. I find it striking how similar it is to Lance Armstrong’s story.

Aniken and Lance’s back stories are similar. No father. Humble beginnings. A close relationship with his mother. Caste-changing talent.

Aniken did what he needed to win. Lance, too. When the dark side was their best bet, they went with it and didn’t look back. Aniken murdered a room full of kids and tried to take down his master. Lance shot up and chewed up his friends and spit them out, all the while using his cancer comeback story to pad his hero persona.

I thought those were agonizingly long moments at the end of Return of Jedi as Vader watched the Emperor jolt his son, Luke, (Armstrong has a son named Luke, too). I’m sure Lucas included Vader’s slow deliberation for dramatic effect, but it looked more like Vader was evaluating his options to see which course of action would be better for Vader.

The months from when USADA stripped Armstrong of his titles and banned him from sport for life and Lance v. Oprah reminds me of those moments Vader deliberated.

Lance Armstrong at the team presentation of th...

‘I’m about to cheat, y’all! Anybody got an empty Coke can?’

What’s better for Lance? He lost his rep. He lost his future income (maybe he should lose some of his past income, too). He lost his involvement with LiveStrong. The only thing he has left to look forward to? Competition.

But, wait. He can’t. He’s banned. So, what’s best for Lance? Come clean. Maybe we’ll take pity on him.

Oh…and also, whine that you got a “death penalty” while everyone else got off with slap on the wrist (wait, didn’t they confess when they were given a chance while you tweeted a pic of yourself ‘laying around’ with your fraudulent yellow jerseys?).

Aniken and Lance are easy guys to figure out. They will do what’s best for themselves, always, and they will cross lines to do it. It’s best you not be one of those lines.

When the news of the Oprah interview broke, someone asked me, why is he doing this now? I said, because now is best for Lance. He wants to compete again. It drives him crazy that he can’t. He doesn’t have much else. 

I actually thought I was over playing that, but that was about the only reason Darth Armstrong could muster when asked by Oprah, Why now? I about fell out of my chair. I’m a competitor. I like to win. I want to be able to run the Chicago Marathon when I’m 50. It’s not fair. Waaaaaa…

I don’t think it has sunk in for him yet. YOU DIDN’T WIN. YOU CHEATED. YOU ARE NOT A WINNER. YOU’RE A CHEATER.

As an aside, Oprah played tapes from past interviews where Armstrong defiantly denied doping. I noticed one tell to his lies was saying “absolutely” twice. And I believe he said “absolutely not” twice when Oprah asked if he doped to get his third place finish at the 2009 Tour.

At least Vader’s last selfish act restored freedom to the galaxy (until the next movie comes out in 2015). Armstrong’s cancer survival story has encouraged many cancer victims to fight, which is probably the most heartbreaking for me. What are those people thinking?

Questions I wish Oprah would have asked Lance: Did you discover EPO during your cancer recovery? Was it your discovery of this drug that ignited the EPO generation in cycling?

Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel, 2009

Darth Armstrong, Johan Palpatine, 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2 thoughts on “Darth Armstrong

  1. I think that there are multiple issues here.

    First, Lance cheated. The fact that everybody was cheating helps us to understand how someone without extremely firm moral underpinnings could rationalize that as an excuse that made it OK, but that still didn’t make it right. Nope, Lance stepped over the line along with the other cyclists. As my mom used to caution, “If everyone else jumped off the cliff, would you jump, too?”

    As for his years of deception and so-called bullying tactics, let’s just say that Lance is the poster boy for “what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” But I can’t find much sympathy for those he “bullied” either. After all, even if they later came clean, they all initially participated in the cheating and he deception or, at a minimum, accepted or overlooked it – until there were either more incentives or fewer disincentives for them to speak the truth. They too crossed the line and it’s not my place to judge whose wrong was greater. They were complicit in Lance’s wrongdoings and, in some sense, there was an unspoken understanding and agreement that they would keep quiet and Lance would provide them with certain benefits that went along with association with him. In essence, they made a deal with the devil. When they broke their “promise”, they should have expected nothing less than what they got. That doesn’t necessarily make Lance’s actions and tactics right, but just as the various sanctions that Lance faces don’t make him a victim, neither do Lance’s sanctions against his former co-conspirators make them victims.

    Coming back from Stage 4 cancer to win the Tour de France seven times – performance enhancing drugs or not – is a remarkable feat. Indeed, while cheating (defined as breaking the rules versus gaining an unfair advantage on one’s opponents) was wrong and inexcusable, unless I see good evidence that the other top finishers were not also engaging in such behaviors, I find it hard to downgrade his performance relative to theirs. The sad thing – for fans and for Lance – is that we will never know how good he could have been without the drugs. Sure, he admitted that without the drugs he could not have won the 7 races, but that’s because he couldn’t have beaten other top cyclists who were using drugs.

    Personally, I think the conversation has focused too much on the winning of all the races, but perhaps our overwhelming attention to that aspect of this fiasco may give us some insight into why Lance was driven to win at all costs. We have become more focused on the cheating as it pertains to winning a sporting event than as it pertains to our role and duty in society and our ultimate fate when we face our Creator.


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