The reaction of Lance Armstrong finally admitting to all his shortcomings and shortcuts throughout his well-publicized career has been one which seems to embody the entirety of human emotion.
Armstrong has not been one to shy away from controversy and confrontation as he made his way to the top of the cycling world and his inevitable crash back to mortality. He has done amazing things to work to save the lives of those who suffer from cancer and he has attempted to destroy the lives of those who did little more than tell the truth about who he was when he wasn’t in front of a microphone or television camera.
So the question then becomes: who is the real Lance Armstrong?
Is he the guy who wanted so badly to help the people who could not help themselves, or is he the guy who wanted to bring down people who were correct in their assertions of Armstrong being a cheater and a liar? It seems these two personal philosophies cannot exist within the same person, can they?
Maybe reaction wouldn’t be so varied, but his interview with Oprah did very little to set himself apart from the guy who worked diligently to destroy innocent people. He said what he needed to say and was almost convincing with most of it. It wasn’t clear what his level of self-recognition is at this point. He knows what he did and it seems he knows it was wrong and he did a lot of damage to a lot of people, but it didn’t seem that he was to a point where he felt sincerely sorrowful for all of his actions.
Questions being answered by first qualifying his actions and then saying he realizes what he did was wrong is no way to apologize for anything. It quickly becomes nothing more than a way to explain his reasons for why he did what he did. There was still a hint (in the same way an answer to a question is a hint) of indignation and arrogance sticking to most of the words which seemed to hang in the air after his attempts to lend gravity to what he was saying.
This is not to say there weren’t moments where he seemed to fully understand what he had done. But those moments seemed to come when he was speaking about his family. Even someone as calculatingly controlling as Armstrong has some real emotions in there somewhere. Despite his best attempts, he was unsuccessful in transforming himself entirely into a robot.
The overall message he continues to portray is one of being sad he got caught. He even said to Oprah, if it wasn’t for his re-entry into the cycling world and a few hurt feelings of former teammates he wouldn’t be there talking with Oprah. If that isn’t one of the most telling moments of that interview I’m not sure what would be.
He admitted what he did was wrong. He admitted he was a “bully” and did some things which he regrets. But overall, is he really sorry? For some things, maybe. But he still has a long way to go to convince his doubters he fully realizes the extent of his actions and the wide-reaching ramifications of how he chose to live his life for many years.