It was assumed that the Lance Armstrong Saga reached its conclusion last year, when the hero-turned-villain cycling superstar received a lifetime ban from competition and got his seven Tour de France titles taken away. For better or worse, it seemed like a reasonable final chapter to a sordid, sad and at times bizarre tale.
Then, this past Friday evening, Armstrong’s name snuck back into the headlines when the New York Times reported that he was contemplating admitting that he doped during his cycling days. Juliet Macur, the author of the story, indicated that Armstrong’s main motivation for purportedly wanting to come clean was him wanting to “persuade antidoping officials to restore his eligibility so he can resume his athletic career.”
There would be a ton of legal ramifications to Armstrong admitting that he had spent the better part of the last decade a.) lying about doping and b.) viciously attacking anyone who suggested that he was lying about doping, so the admission isn’t as clean and simple as it sounds. Beyond that, aside from that one NYT piece, there is no indication that Armstrong is planning to do any such thing anyway.
This week, a new story emerged regarding Armstrong – albeit not one that has anything to do with him publicly copping to his sins. This one is far more sinister.
In an interview with 60 Minutes Sports (by way of the Los Angeles Times), USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart told Scott Pelley that Armstrong tried to donate $250,000 to his organization back in 2004.
“I was stunned,” Tygart said, according to a Showtime news release distributed to reporters, including The Times, on Tuesday. “It was a clear conflict of interest for USADA. We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer.”
When asked by Pelley if the total was $250,000, Tygart said: “It was around that ballpark.”
In an effort to verify Tygart’s claims, the L.A. Times reached out to Armstrong’s legal team. Tim Herman said this of the offered dontation:
“At some point … I thought around the mid-2000s … someone was seeking some money for testing equipment and Armstrong offered to help. I don’t know for sure what happened. I only vaguely remember someone in the enforcement community needing some new testing equipment.
“There was some request to us, I thought. I can’t recall exactly, but that’s my recollection.”
So there you go, just a guy trying to lend a helping hand. Perfectly innocent.
It is amazing how differently we view Armstrong now. Totally and completely amazing. Forget that he probably doped, aside from a few diehard cycling fanatics, nobody really cares. Even if Livestrong was built on a lie, the nobility of its intentions more than compensate for that. What can’t be forgiven, however, is how brutally Armstrong went after his accusers. The maliciousness he displayed on a regular basis, the spite, the ease with which he went about using his money and fame to attack others – that can’t be forgiven.
That, above all else, is what really tarnished his reputation.