AUSTIN, TX (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – Following the bombshell admissions made by Lance Armstrong last week, the cycling world and the seventeen other people who follow that kind of thing have expressed various permutations of sadness, anger, vindication, indignation, and smug I-Told-You-So-ness.
Many have wondered, endlessly, whether Armstrong said enough, as well as whether he was entirely truthful, or simply told what he could without exposing himself to an even larger legal and personal train wreck than what he’s already in for.
What nobody seems to have wondered, however, is what got left on the editing room floor from that interview. Were there more revelations? Clarifications? Additional apologies?
Nobody has wondered this, that is, until now. Because neither Lance nor Oprah counted on an intrepid reporter who was using state-of-the-art secret eavesdropping techniques to listen in on and report the untold story.
Super-secret eavesdropping techniques
The following transcripts reveal that what was not broadcast during the riveting 90-minute interview on Thursday — along with the not-really-all-that-riveting 60-minute interview on Friday — contains shocking revelations that are guaranteed to keep Twitter buzzing until the next shocking revelation is revealed (about 45 minutes at the current rate).
More Yes and No Questions
Without a doubt, the most extraordinary part of the Oprah / Armstrong interview was during the first three minutes, during which Oprah (or as she prefers to be called, “Oprah”) asked Armstrong (who would currently prefer to not be called at all) numerous yes-or-no questions.
Curiously, however, not all of Oprah’s yes-or-no questions made it into the broadcast. The full, unedited transcript of this yes-and-no session follows:
Oprah: Did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?
Oprah: Was one of those banned substances EPO?
Oprah: Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?
Oprah: Have you ever taken amphetamines during a race?
Oprah: Would it be simpler for me to ask you specifically what things you haven’t taken during your racing career?
Oprah: Did you fake the moon landing?
Armstrong: I think you mean a different . . .
Oprah: Yes or no, please. Did you fake the moon landing?
Oprah: Hmmph. You say your last name is “Armstrong,” yet you made a living using your legs. Is that not disingenuous?
Oprah: Did you kill JFK?
Oprah: Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?
Armstrong: Yes. I have one at my house in Aspen. I kept Betsy Andreu in there for a couple years.
Oprah: Did you kill Nicole Brown Simpson?
Oprah: Are you hungry?
Oprah: Have you ever been to Fuddrucker’s?
Oprah: They make really good hamburgers. Why do you suppose they went through bankruptcy in 2010, while other chains thrived?
Armstrong: It wasn’t a problem with their food. I think it was a combination of a bad economic climate and . . .
Oprah: Yes or no responses only, please!
Armstrong: But that wasn’t a yes or no . . .
Oprah: Yes or no responses only, please!
Oprah: I thought so. Will you jump up and down on the couch for me?
Armstrong: Yes. But first I need to take a testosterone pill, inject some EPO, and have a blood transfusion, which will allow me to jump higher, faster, and for a greater period of time than anyone else ever has or will again.
Following the frank admissions made by Armstrong, Oprah (who prefers to be called “Ms. Oprah”) spent a few minutes trying to understand the mind of Lance Armstrong by using a word game used by psychologists in movies.
Oprah: Let’s try some word association. I’ll say a word or phrase, you tell me what it makes you think of.
Oprah: We’re done with the yes or no part.
Oprah: Cut it out.
Oprah: (Slaps Armstrong.) Don’t make me do that again. OK, let’s get started. France.
Armstrong: The barber. And also, cheating.
Oprah: Oh, I’m sorry. I guess I’ve been doing this backwards.
Perhaps the thing that angered Armstrong critics the most about Armstrong’s interview — apart from the fact that it was ever necessary to begin with — was that Armstrong made only a few public apologies, many of which seemed half-hearted at best.
In fact, however, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. Here’s how the original apology discussion went:
Oprah: Are there any people you’d like to apologize to?
Armstrong: Well, everyone, basically. Let’s start with the Andreus. They took a principled stand, and I accused them of lying and broke off our friendship and made their lives incredibly difficult in return. I’m really sorry to them.
Next, I want to apologize to Greg Lemond, who . . .
Oprah: Cut! I’m sorry, Lance, but my mind started wandering. This train of apologies makes boring television. Let’s just move on to the next topic, and we’ll edit this part out.
Thus, for the first time in more than thirty years, something bad happened that was not Armstrong’s fault.
8:05: Thanks everyone for reading and commenting along. Have a great weekend.
I am now going to go eat everything in the world I can find.
7:59: For some reason, I’m finding it easy to be snarkier tonight than last night. Maybe that’s not cool. OK, it’s for sure not cool. I — and a lot of people — need to remember that even if he’s not telling all the truth, he’s at least telling some truth.
And that’s something.
7:54: A commenter just asked whether I posted on the VeloNews live blog. No, I didn’t. I’m busy typing here. What did the person impersonating me say, though?
7:52: Lance just used “apoplectic” in a sentence. Nobody can ever take that away from him.
7:50: He’s talking about his mom. My wind is wandering. I snapped back to attention to wonder, “Really, she didn’t know? His mom didn’t know?” Because if not, she wasn’t paying attention.
Or she knew and he didn’t know she knew. That’s my guess.
7:47: Did you try to pay off USADA?
A: No. That’s just not true.
Personal note: I don’t care very much about these nitty-gritty things. There’s so much he has done that specific small things he has or has not done don’t really factor in. He’s admitted so much that most people’s impression is — and I include myself — he did everything he was accused of.
7:44: Talk around the couch is about the 2 emotional points of this interview so far: talking about his kids, and talking about his foundation.
I’m happy to point out that he shows real emotion when talking about the really good things he’s made in his life.
7:43: Oprah asks why he’s doing this interview, Lance says it’s for the well being of his kids. Oprah and I share a baffled look.
7:36: Talking about his oldest son, “What you’re saying about my dad isn’t true.” And he starts crying. “He never said, ‘Dad, is this true?’ and he trusted me. And I heard about it in the hallways….”
O: what did you say to him?
A: At the time I didn’t say anything, but I knew I had to say something to him. And I had to have the talk with him, over the holidays. I said, listen, I’ve always denied that, but I want you to know that it’s true.
A: I also told my 11-yr old twins. And they didn’t say much, they just accepted it.
Personal note: I get a sick feeling even thinking about having to convey a message of such incredibly deep deception to my children.
A: I told my son, “Don’t defend me anymore. Just don’t.” He’s been remarkably calm about this. Just say, ‘hey, my dad says he’s sorry.’ He said, “OK. I love you, you’re my dad, this won’t change that.”
O: Did you expect defiance, anger, disappointment?
A: Thank God he’s more like Kristin than like me.
The cancer dr beside me said, “Maybe Lance should have sued him.”
7:35: Some demographic stuff I’m wondering about. I wonder how many people who watched the first half of the interview are watching the second half?
Also, I wonder about how many non-cyclists are sticking around for the whole 3 hours of this?
7:31: The reason he didn’t dope when he came back to racing is because Kristin – his X – made him promise not to.
K, I’m the most believing person in the world, but that makes no sense at all to me. He doped even when they were married. Why would he care what his X requested and start heeding her advice now?
7:29: Does anyone know the whole truth?
A: Yeah. And then a weird laugh, and no elaboration.
I’m going to be honest here folks, I’m feeling like the real meat of this interview is behind us.
7:27: Were there people who knew who wanted you to quit?
O: Could they have gotten you to stop?
A: Probably not. But if there was one name, I would say Kristin. She’s a smart, spiritual lady who believes in truth.
7:26: A commenter is worried about the fact that I’m sitting by a cancer doctor. The cancer doctor is Heather, Kenny’s girlfriend. She’s very handy to have around during this.
A: Do I have it? Absolutely. Will it grow? Absolutely.
7:21: How has this changed how you see yourself? “It hasn’t, entirely.” So that’s honest, it seems like.
7:18: Do I want to compete again? Hell yes. I’m a competitor. I don’t think anyone will say that this is not a perfectly honest moment.
“But this isn’t the reason I’m doing this.” Ugh, not everyone’s going to believe that.
“I got a death penalty, everyone else got six months.” He doesn’t feel like this is fair. Weird that someone who has cheated his whole life is now interested in fairness.
7:16: Who he owes apologies to: Frankie, Betsy, Lemond, more. Even Walsh, though he says it (IMHO less than convincingly).
He says he’d like to tell lots of people he’s sorry. And he’s going on an apology tour.
7:14: Did doping cause his cancer? No, I don’t think so, says Lance. The cancer Dr sitting next to me says she’s not aware of a causal effect. She says testosterone is linked to prostate cancer, though. So don’t go thinking you’re out of the woods if you dope, cancer-wise. You just might get a different kind of cancer.
7:10: I wonder what the “moments” from tonight will be. Last night’s were the first couple minutes, the fat joke (I personally think “Fat” is a fine first name, BTW), and the “Oh, I dunno, we sue a lot of people.”
I worry that tonight’s going to get ickily personal. Am I the only one?
7:07: Lance says that of everything, losing his connection is the hardest. And it seems like this is genuine emotion.
I absolutely positively believe this part. I have talked with Lance about a number of things, but his intensity and his “realness” seem much at their strongest when he’s talking about LiveStrong. Whether he’s there or not, I guarantee that he thinks of it as his.
7:03: Lance talking about all of the sponsors leaving him. “The one thing I didn’t think would leave would be the foundation.”
The cancer Doctor I’m sitting by says that it’s silly to say that his chances were less than 50%. She says his chances were way better.
For me, it seems like the very most obvious thing that he’d leave the foundation. I can’t imagine trying to fundraise for LiveStrong right now with him there. Meaning I can’t imagine anyone donating stuff for me to give away, and I can’t imagine anyone donating.
7:02: Lance feels disgraced, humbled, ashamed.
Me: How about humiliated? Trapped?
7:01: The announcer’s voice is ssscaarrrrry.
6:59: Welcome to the LiveBlog. I can’t believe I arrived on time. Only just.
I finished last night’s live blog of the Oprah / Armstrong interview by saying this:
I didn’t do a lot of actual commenting — more just writing what I heard. So I will have to think about whether there’s any point in my doing this again tomorrow night. My current thinking is “no.”
But you know what? I’m going to get back on that horse. Or, for those of you who aren’t good at metaphor, I’m going to live blog the second half of the interview. But I’m going to try to balance writing about what is said with what I’m thinking, on the rare occasion I have a thought to share.
Join me, if you care to. I’ll be traveling and might be a little bit late, or a lot late, so if I am, um, sorry? I guess?
Here’s info, which I have carefully copied and pasted from yesterday’s post, on the where and when:
When is it? 9:00pm ET / 7:00pm MT tonight. Also at 9:00pm PT, although I personally will not make the time-shift. I have not yet mastered time.
What channel will the interview be on? It will be on the OWN network. You can find whether you have OWN and where it is on your service provider by clicking here.
What if I don’t get the OWN network? It will also be streamed online from oprah.com.
Where will the live-blog be happening? Right here. You’ll just have to refresh your browser every couple of minutes, because I don’t know how to make it auto-refresh.
8:33: Thanks for reading and for commenting, those of you who did. I didn’t do a lot of actual commenting — more just writing what I heard. So I will have to think about whether there’s any point in my doing this again tomorrow night. My current thinking is “no.”
8:31: One last thing before I sign off. Armstrong mentions disrespecting the color yellow. I think that’s right. I think LiveStrong needs a new color. I think orange might be a good choice.
8:29: A little about George Hincapie, “I don’t fault George Hincapie.” Personal note: I think Hincapie has magically got away with every little thing, to a degree nobody else has.
8:28: Will you go back to USADA?
If I had credibility, if I could go to a truth and reconciliation commission, I’d be first in the door.
Personal note: There’s no possible way he’d be invited to something like that, right?
8:22: Armstrong saying that in hindsight he wishes he could go back in time and cooperate with USADA. This was the most emotional I’ve heard him sound so far, and I believe that he has thought that dozens of times. Things would still be ugly for him, but nowhere near as.
Kinda get the impression that he’s thinking about the fallout of this and how it affects him, above all else.
8:21: Zeeeter comments, “What’s your opinion on Johan now Fatty? You spent quite a lot of time with him . . . Hard to disentangle him from this.”
I need to write a post on that question. Short answer is that it’s not hard to disentangle him from it; it’s impossible.
8:17: A little bit about the federal investigation. A personal note. When the case was dropped, I texted Lance, saying “Congratulations on one less distraction.” I had forgotten about that. Holy crap I feel such a fool.
Anyway, he says he didn’t influence the case. Do I believe that? I guess? He says he at least felt like he was out of the woods “and those were some serious wolves.”
8:15: Do you regret coming back?
I do. We wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t. Which is telling. It makes me think that there’s a whole lot of him who would be really glad if none of this had ever happened.
8:12: Now Floyd. Armstrong agrees that was the case, but says it goes back further. Armstrong’s comeback didn’t sit well with Floyd.
O: Where were you when Floyd said he was going to talk?
A: In the ToC.
On a personal note, I was at the ToC that year and remember seeing Floyd, standing in the sidewalk. Alone, and looking it. That sucks.
8:10: Kate in comments says, “Emma “got run over”? “got bullied”? I’m glad Lance is taking tips from the news reporting of cyclists being assaulted by drivers by using the passive voice. HE ran her over, HE bullied her.” I observed the passive voice too. I am tempted to do the same thing sometimes in my writing when I’m embarrassed and wish I could make it be someone else who did it.
8:05: On to Betsy Andreu. Armstrong and Andreu had a call. He wants to keep it private. He says he didn’t call her fat.
O: How do you feel about calling Emma a whore?
A: Not good. I was on the attack.
8:01: So. He has admitted a lot. He’s also denied a few things. I’m certain that a lot of people are rolling their eyes whenever he speaks counter to anyone else. I find myself conflicted. Why bother lying about anything at all now? Reflex? A hidden agenda?
How horrible would it be to never be believed by anyone, ever again? Sounds like the elevator pitch to Liar Liar 2: This Time It’s Lance Armstrong.
On a personal note, I am really hating the commercials here. Are these third-tier commercials the only companies this interview on this network could draw?
7:58: On to the cortisone Rx, retroactively given. Emma O’Reilly: “That is true. She’s one of the people I have to apologize to. She got run over, got bullied.”
You sued her.
A: I’m sure we did. But I’ve reached out to her and tried to make amends on my own.
O: When everyone was saying things, you would attack/sue people, you knew were telling the truth.
A: It’s a major flaw, a guy who wanted to get what he wanted, control every outcome. It’s inexcusable. Some will never forgive me, and I understand that.
One of the steps in the process is for me to say I’m sorry. You’re right, I was wrong.
7:56: Armstrong denies a positive test, paying off the lab, or the UCI making a positive go away. Calls his donation a coincidence.
Why did he make the donation? “Because they asked me to.”
He acknowledges that nobody probably believes him, but “I have every incentive to say it’s true, but it’s not.”
O: So you didn’t aid or ask them to overlook your tests?
7:54: ChrisA notes in the comments, “He’s getting less credible by the minute, if that is possible. He didn’t know how big his cult was?” That’s exactly right. Chris also notes he should get his own blog. I’m surprised he doesn’t already have one.
7:50: I note that people are saying that he seems cold and calculating. I think that this is who he is. I mentioned somewhere recently that as you get older your personality hardens. You can change, but it’s not easy, and it’s not likely.
Lance has spent most of his adult life weighing and measuring everything he says, keeping reality in his head and conveying a fiction to everyone else.
It’s hard to even imagine that he at this point would be capable of turning off that filter and communicating in a non-calculated way.
7:44: The “sorry you don’t believe in miracles,” speech. His reaction, “that sounds ridiculous.” “I’m definitely embarrassed. You can leave with better than that, Lance. That was lame.”
There was happiness in the process and preparation, the build. That resonates as true. He’s a very process-oriented person.
O: Did it feel wrong?
O: Did you feel bad?
A: No. That’s even scarier. And didn’t feel like I was cheating. That’s the scariest.
I looked up the definition of cheat and it’s to gain an advantage of a rival or foe. I viewed it as a level playing field.
Hindsight is perfect. I didn’t know what I had. Look at the fallout.
O: What do you mean you didn’t know?
A: I didn’t understand the magnitude of the following?
O: How couldn’t you?
A: I just didn’t. I’m just beginning to understand. I see the anger and feelings of betrayal. People who believed me. They have every right to feel betrayed, and they have the right. I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to apologize.
(I’m sure everyone is having a “I’ll spend the rest of my life hunting the real killer” moment)
7:40: One thing that has rung true for me is the way his battle against cancer could affect him. Whenever I heard the “Why would he dope? He’s been through cancer and wouldn’t invite it back by taking drugs” I always thought that’s the POV of someone who hasn’t lived the deeply medical world of cancer. You get so you trust and have faith in drugs, and you have to bring a “let’s break the rules if we have to, take experimental drugs, whatever” attitude to cancer.
Since Susan’s fight against cancer I know I’m certainly less drug-averse.
7:39: I look at myself and say “Look at that arrogant prick.” The Hammer is not amused.
7:32: Disputes that he pressured others into doping. When asked specifically about Ferrari, he hesitates. “Some people in this story are good people. Not toxic, not monsters. I view Ferrari as a good man, a smart man. I still do.”
It sounds like Armstrong’s no-holds-barred thing only applies to himself. He’s still protecting others. This doesn’t feel like loyalty; this feels like a calculus.
Would this be your same response today? No. Most things would be different today.
Was he the mastermind? No.
What was he then? I’m not comfortable talking about other people. But it’s all out there.
Walsh’s association with Ferrari implicated you. Was it reckless to be associated with him? Yes, but there were plenty of other reckless things. Reckless would be a good way to characterize that period in my life.
So what was going on with you? Fame intensifies both.
I’m both a jerk and a humanitarian. The magnifying glass shows more of the jerk right now and I’m paying the price for this. And I’m OK with that. I deserve it.
What were your flaws that made you willing to risk it all?
A ruthless desire to win at all costs.
7:29: The Hammer’s asking what I think of this. My main thought is I don’t like having suspicion and doubt overshadow everything someone says.
7:28: I realize that I’m basically just transcribing the conversation here. My original plan was to comment. But you know, I’m mostly just soaking this in.
7:25: Were you a bully?
Yeah, I was a bully. In the sense that I tried to control the narrative. If I didn’t like it for whatever reason, I would say “that’s a lie, they’re liars.”
Have you done that your whole life?
“My entire life. We had our backs against the wall. My mom was a fighter.”
Before my diagnosis I was a competitor, but I wasn’t a fighter. In treatment I said I would do anything I need to survive. I took that relentlessness into cycling.
But you were already doping?
Yeah, but I wasn’t a bully then.
So what made you a bully?
Trying to hide the truth. This (starting this interview) is only the second time I couldn’t control the outcome.
7:21: Were you the one in charge? Could you get someone fired?
It depends on what they were doing. Did I get people fired? No. There was no directive.
“It’s not true” that Christian was told he had to dope or be kicked off.
O: could the level of expectation be that if you don’t do it that you could be off the team?
Armstrong: “If you’re doping and leading by example, that would be a problem.”
O: Splitting hairs?
A: There was no verbal directive. But as the guy who led the team, I accept that 100%.
Acknowledges that he isn’t the most believable person in the world right now.
7:19: It’s interesting that everyone in the world — from the racers in the USADA affidavits to Armstrong — all claim to have been clean since 2006-6. Ws it really better testing? Or is that the agreed-upon “I saw the light” moment?
7:17: Armstrong contends that he did not dope after his comeback. Like everyone else, I’m sure, I see no particular reason to trust that this is true.
7:15: I’m sure there are bike geeks in the world shouting at the screen right now, but I’m not one of them. For most people in the world, this is clear, compelling and thorough.
7:10: A little from Hamilton on how they did it. Oprah asks Lance how they did it. “You said it was smart but not most sophisticated.”
Motoman – yes, that was true.
Did you stop in the middle of the tour at a hotel and dope? Yes
It sounds like TH was telling the truth.
“How did it all work?”
“I viewed it as simple. We had O2-boosting drugs beneficial for sports, and that’s all you needed. My cocktail was only EPO, blood transfusions, and testosterone.”
He justified the testosterone to himself because of having one testicle. But knew the justification was bogus.
It wasn’t difficult to beat the tests. And out-of-competition testing was only theoretical. “You’re not going to get caught, because you’re clean — clear — at the races.” It’s a matter of scheduling.
The shift to out of competition testing and the biological passport changed all that.
7:07: Oprah references Tygert’s assertion about it being the most professional doping program ever.
Lance contends it was no bigger than others, and that they didn’t have anything for example East Germany didn’t have.
He doesn’t want to blame anyone but himself.
He’s splitting hairs on whether anyone wasn’t doping.
The Hammer is shouting at him.
“I’m out of the biz of calling people liars.”
7:05: Why? Lance says it’s a good question, and that he understands it’s too late.
“This story was so perfect for so long.” Talking about the “mythic, perfect story” that wasn’t true at many levels. “I’m a flawed person” but he helped paint that picture.
Says a lot of people contributed, but all the “fault and blame lays on me.”
“I lost myself in all that” — the media and fame. Says “I controlled every outcome in my life,” especially sport.
“The story is so bad and toxic and a lot of it’s true.”
“I didn’t invent but I didn’t try to stop the culture. The sport is now paying the price for that. I didn’t have access to anything nobody else had.”
7:03: Wow, started with a bang. I like the directness of Oprah.
7:01: Oprah’s starting with the statement that she can ask anything she wants. Starting with yes or no.
Did you dope? Yes
Blood dope? Yes
Testosterone, HGH? Yes
In all 7? Yes
Humanly possible to win 7x in a row without doping? No
7:00: Here we go. I bet the first 10 minutes is just history. Recap for most of us, news to most of the people watching this.
6:58: I wonder if Lance considered the context of the network where this interview occurs. Tawdry. Sappy.
6:55: I have no idea what this liveblog is going to be like. I kinda suspect that while I’d like it to be kind of light and funny, the show itself is going to be horrifying enough that I’ll be stunned into the textual equivalent of silence. In which case, I’m sure folks on Twitter will have something to say.
6:53: Wow, is this Where Are They Now? show pretty much what you usually find on this network? Cuz it’s a terrible program.
6:50: Hi there. 10 minutes ’til this starts. I’ll be posting newest stuff up top. And you’ll have to refresh the browser yourself to see the latest stuff. I won’t be posting more often than every two minutes or so, so don’t bother refreshing more often than that.
I’ll check the comments once in a while, but between listening, typing and reading comments, I may hit multitasking overload. So if I don’t reply to you, it’s not you. It’s me.
I’ll be live-blogging the Oprah / Armstrong interview tonight. You should join and comment along.
Here’s some handy information so you won’t accidentally forget and then feel all sad. (It’s much better to go ahead and watch and feel all sad instead.)
When is it? 9:00pm ET / 7:00pm MT tonight. Also at 9:00pm PT.
What channel will the interview be on? It will be on the OWN network. You can find whether you have OWN and where it is on your service provider by clicking here.
What if I don’t get the OWN network? It will also be streamed online from oprah.com.
Where will the live-blog be happening? Right here. You’ll just have to refresh your browser every couple of minutes, because I don’t know how to make it auto-refresh.
Honestly, I don’t know whether the live-blog of this will turn out serious, silly, outraged, or what. We’ll find out soonish.
PS: I am not sure whether I’ll be live-blogging part 2 of this interview; I’ll be doing some traveling tomorrow afternoon and don’t know whether I’ll have arrived and set up by 7pm, nor do I know whether the Internet connection I’ll have there will be good enough to stream the show (I do know that the people I’m staying with don’t have the OWN network).
There’s a lot being said about Lance Armstrong right now. About his upcoming confession. About how he cheated, who he cheated, and why he cheated. There’s a lot of talk about his apology to the staff of LiveStrong, and whether the LiveStrong faithful will remain . . . faithful. A lot of people are interviewing and being interviewed.
But you know what? I’m interested in hearing about the people who are – or were – the LiveStrong faithful. I’m interested in hearing what the people who he directly lied to think. I’m interested in knowing how the folks who had Lance’s back feel right about now.
Oh wait. That’s me.
You know what? Someone should ask me some questions.
What, no takers? Fine, I’ll do it myself.
I know, I know. Interviewing yourself is about as ridiculous as interviewing an empty chair. And presuming anyone is interested in what I think and feel about this whole thing is about as self-absorbed as a person can get.
But then again, what is a blog if not a public proclamation of self-absorption?
And to be honest, it’s helpful for me to get my thoughts down. It makes my reasonable beliefs more clear, and it helps me recognize my stupid beliefs as such.
So let’s get started. Q&A with me.
How do you know Lance?
My first real interaction with Lance was before I ever became known as someone with a gift for fundraising — back when Susan was really sick — took the time to send over a picture of him holding up a “WIN Susan” sign and tweet encouraging remarks our way.
When Susan passed away, Lance tweeted a touching message my way.
Gestures like that meant a lot to me, and they still do.
With everything being said about Lance right now, it seems to be forgotten that whatever else he has done, he cares deeply about the fight against cancer, and has taken a lot of his time to support individual people during their fights.
So maybe it’s not such a bad idea to bear in mind that he is not a pure villain. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to bear in mind that he can be incredibly thoughtful toward someone he doesn’t know at all.
Apart from those interactions, up until about a year ago, my interaction with Lance were pretty much the interactions any person who raises a lot of money for LiveStrong has: meet him at fundraisers, get my photo taken with him. That kind of thing.
OK, so that’s up until a year ago. What happened then?
I was in one of my blog blackout weeks, working on my day job offsite, in a conference room. I wasn’t following the news or anything else, really. No time for it.
Then I got an email — my first — from Lance. He was wondering what I thought about Bill Gifford’s article in Outside. At that point, I hadn’t read it, so replied that I’d read it and get back to him.
That night, in my hotel, I read Gifford’s piece, then wrote my reaction to it. (I just went back and read it, and am happy to say that I stand by it.) I emailed Lance back and told him he could check out my post. He replied and thanked me.
Was that manipulation? I think it was, albeit of a very mild sort. At the time, though, it just seemed really cool that he thought enough of my opinion to even want me to have his back.
And did you stay in touch?
We did. I actually became a bit of a pest. For example:
When I asked him to give me a pair of his old running shoes as a semi-joke incentive for a fundraiser for LiveStrong, he obliged (and even made a video of him sending it).
When I published my “Best of” book, I asked him to tweet a link to it; he obliged.
When I saw on Facebook that what Jenni Laurita really wanted for her birthday was a tweet from Lance, I asked him if he would; he obliged.
When I was upset by the way the Susan Komen foundation scrubbed funding for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, I emailed him and Doug Ulman saying I wanted to do something about it; he wrote back right away, saying he agreed and that they were already on the case.
So it sounds like your own experiences with Lance were overwhelmingly positive?
Almost all of them were. But not all.
When he found out I was going on TourChats to promote my book, Lance actually called me and told me I should prepare to be attacked by the Neil Browne and some of the people who watch Tourchats (Lance was correct about some of the people, but completely incorrect about Neil, who was gracious while we talked and with whom I’ve since become good friends).
Lance sounded angry. He went on for about ten minutes, on a roll, getting more and more pissed off. I don’t get angry like that — honestly, I can’t remember ever just flying into a tirade of the intensity and scope he was on — and I just wanted to get off the phone.
At some point during this call, the talk turned to accusations of doping. I asked, “Is there anything to be worried about?” It was as close to coming straight out and asking him as I dared to be.
“There’s nothing there. Nothing at all,” he said.
This made a little red flag go up in my mind, because by this time there was enough evidence that he had doped that I had a hard time believing he could have been clean. So I had to resolve my personal “innocent until proven guilty” philosophy against my belief that he had doped, mixed in with his assertion, made personally to me, that he was clean.
I decided that I’d hold true to my philosophy. I wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon of condemnation. Further, I would provide contrast to all the claims of what a mean, vindictive person he is.
But at the same time, I decided I wouldn’t — couldn’t — assert that he’s clean.
My compromise position was that I’d leave doping out of my blog more or less altogether.
Which I wasn’t altogether happy about, because I would sometimes have a funny thought about doping, then have to abandon it.
When’s the last time you communicated with him?
Back in August, while I was racing the Breck Epic. I texted him, saying I was about tot start my fifth straight day of racing and was completely wiped. I said I never understood before how hard it is to race day after day. I told him he should come race the Breck Epic in 2013. He asked when it is.
We haven’t been in touch since then. And to be honest, since the USADA reasoned decision came out (here’s my post from that day), I haven’t been all that excited to communicate with him.
Because I feel stupid. I feel like I’m easily played. I’m the guy who believed Tyler and went on and on about it.
I’m the guy who believed Floyd and went on and on about it.
And now I’m the guy who thought he’d learned his lesson and so — rather than come out and say something I suspected but didn’t know for sure about Lance doping — just talked about Lance and LiveStrong.
But that’s a nuanced position, and it was misinterpreted to mean that I believed everything Lance said. And nuance on Armstrong doesn’t exactly register with the scorched-earth crowd.
And they have a point. Clearly, I defended Armstrong. And the good will I created contributed to his camouflage for his cheating, lying, and intimidation.
I feel sick about that. And used. At the same time, though, I don’t want to become one of the cynical people — the people who sneer at and suspect everyone.
I’ll try to be wiser. But I’m not going to try to change my fundamental nature.
Do you feel like Lance owes you an apology?
I don’t even know how he could phrase it, if he does. “I’m sorry I was kind to you and your dying wife, then leveraged your gratitude and trust into a smokescreen for my cheating and lying.”
It sounds calculating to the point of being ridiculous.
I don’t want an apology, and I’d feel weird getting one.
Do you feel like you owe your readers an apology?
Readers, I’m sorry I was one-sided about Lance. My inclination is to talk publicly about the good people do, and to keep my reservations about people to myself. That was a disservice to you.
So where do you stand regarding LiveStrong?
I still support them, and plan to continue fundraising for them. I haven’t come to this decision lightly, either. I know that the image of LiveStrong has been tarnished by Lance’s cheating, and in a lot of people’s minds, they’re one and the same. So I know it will be harder to fundraise for LiveStrong, at least for a while.
I’ve considered whether, for the amount of time and energy I have, LiveStrong is one of the places on which I should focus.
But the fact remains that while I’ve had a few nice Lance-related LiveStrong experiences, the people who really made me a believer in this foundation are the staff of the organization. They’re the people who helped me when I needed it. They’re the people who have helped numerous people I’ve referred to them. They’re the people I’m thinking about when, whenever I get email from someone who has cancer, I strongly recommend contacting LiveStrong immediately.
But will you continue wearing your yellow LiveStrong bracelet?
I’ve never worn those. I like orange.
So what would you like to see happen next?
I’d like to see this burn as hot as it needs to, for as long as it needs to. And then, once it’s done, I’m looking forward to seeing what rises from the ashes.
I’m looking forward to writing about riding my bike and joking about bikes and riders and riding.
I’m looking forward to the future, and hopeful that those who need to — me, for example — will remember this as an important cautionary tale.
PS: If you would like to ask me questions in the comments, I’ll do my best to answer, as long as you are civil. Non-civil questions will be deleted without comment.
Last year was extraordinary. Starting about the time the snow melted, if I wasn’t training for an event, I was racing (or riding) in an event.
I’m not complaining, mind you, at least no more than I usually complain. Which may seem like a lot to you, but I assure you: I could complain much more than I do. In other words: my complaining, with regards to the amount of racing I did last year, is relatively little, to the point of being hardly any at all.
By the way, you can skip the above paragraph without losing any meaning from this post whatsoever. This one, too. Sorry I waited ’til now to reveal that.
Where was I?
Still, at the end of the year, The Hammer and I wryly commented to one another, “One of these years, we should try to not do so many events.” (Except neither of us really knows what “wry” means, and we didn’t really say this to each other, because it would be pretty weird for two people to make the same comment to each other.
Here’s my point, though, which I probably should have simply led with: Last year, I rode and raced a lot.
And my follow-up point — which, mercifully, I’m going to arrive at much more quickly — is that 2013 is looking pretty busy too.
And by “pretty busy” I of course mean that about 50% of all of my weekends, starting in March, are already spoken for. This should (once again) not be confused with complaining, because the fact is, I am totally excited to do every single ride I’ve got on the plan.
Check them out, in glorious chronological order.
24 Hours in the Old Pueblo: February 15 – 17
About a week ago, The Hammer and I got an invitation to race as part of Team IMBA at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo relay MTB race. We’ve never done this course before, but I hear it’s an incredibly beautiful course.
As part of a five-person team, I normally wouldn’t be too terribly worried about the difficulty of this race. With four people racing laps in between each of my laps, I’ll have plenty of recovery time. That said, I have never raced in February before. And as I’ve mentioned recently, I kinda let myself go during the past few months, to the extent that — even though I’m trying really hard to put myself back together as quickly as possible — I’m going to be riding a little bit slow, with my knees smooshing into my stomach a lot more than I’d like.
It should be a good wake-up call.
Even more of a wake-up call, though, will be the fact that the person who pointed IMBA toward The Hammer and me as candidates for their team was none other than The Queen of Pain herself, Rebecca Rusch. And she’ll be there, racing in a Duo Pro Team. This, she says, will be a good opportunity for her and SS-racing hardman Yuri Hauswald to give me some training advice (specifically, they will poke me in the stomach and tell me exactly how serious of a problem I’m going to have if I don’t get rid of some of this weight before the season really soon).
I’m also looking forward to talking with the folks at IMBA about what they do and how I can help. For all the time I spend riding and racing on trails, I have given remarkably little back. It’s time for me to fix that.
The Moab Half Marathon: March 16
I have to be honest here: I’m not going to run the half marathon here. The Hammer is.
That was a dramatic “however,” wasn’t it?
“However,” I shall now go on to say, “I will be running the five-mile version of the course.”
And now I’m pausing again, dramatically, because I have something to add.
“And,” I conclude, “I will be running it with my 17-year old son.”
Those of you who have been following my life closely for the past little while will understand how big of a deal that is.
Leadman Tri, Tempe AZ: April 14
Last September, The Hammer, The Swimmer, and I participated in the Leadman Tri 250 as a relay. It was an incredible experience, and left me with a hunger to do more racing on my Specialized Shiv.
And I wanted The Hammer to play, too. So we got her a Shiv, too. And now The Hammer and I will look even more adorable as we train together.
We’re both going to do the Leadman Tri in Tempe, Arizona. We won’t be doing it as a relay team, though; we’re both going to do the whole thing (luckily for us, this race is only half the distance of the Bend event).
And like the last time I did a Leadman Tri, there will be a “Faster than Fatty” challenge. Unlike last time, however, a lot of people are going to destroy me, because I’m going to have to do the swim (which I’m very bad at) and the run (which I’m incredibly bad at).
In other words, this may be a good event for you to score a “Faster than Fatty” t-shirt at.
Oh, and by the way, we’re in negotiations on whether there will be a “Drop The Hammer” competition. (I’m in favor of such a competition; The Hammer has reservations on the idea.)
Africa in Moab:
Maybe the most extraordinary event of the year will be the Africa in Moab event I’ll be participating in with three lucky winners in the Grand Slam for Zambia contest. I’d detail it here for you, but it would just make you feel bad that you didn’t win the prize (except for the three of you who did).
The 100 Miles of Nowhere: June 1
The sixth annual 100 Miles of Nowhere (click here for last year’s description) will be on June 1. Or as close to that day as you can manage. Frankly, it’s a pretty amazing, bizarre event and I highly recommend you mark your calendar. It sells out in less than one day every year.
The Twin Six guys are already hard at work on a new design for the event shirt. I’ll show it to you when there’s something awesome to show.
The Rockwell Relay: Moab to Saint George: June 7 – 8
For the past two years, Team Fatty has utterly dominated the Coed division, in large part because of the following:
- Kenny’s on the team
- The division is quite small.
We are going to race it again. And this year, I’d really really like to see some of you come race it with us. I think you’ll find it is a strange mix of fun, intense, and — in the honest sense of the word — epic. Read my report from 2011 or 2012 to see what I mean.
And this year, if you sign up because you found out about the race from me, you’re going to get a very cool jersey. I’ll have details on this soon, but for right now, start trying to find a way to make it to this event, and build yourself a team.
And don’t worry about whether you’ll beat us. At least not yet.
LiveStrong Davis Challenge: June 23
It’s not an easy time to be a LiveStrong supporter. But yes, Team Fatty will be in Davis, CA, once again, for the LiveStrong Davis Challenge.
Here’s the thing, though. I’ve got something in the works that will — even if you’re kind of soured on LiveStrong thanks to Lance right now — maybe make you want to support this event and even join Team Fatty and do some fundraising.
It’s a big deal, and it’s kind of amazing, and once I tell you what it is you’ll smack your forehead and say, “Oh of course.” But I can’t reveal what it is quite yet, ’til I have the details nailed down.
So do what you can to keep this date open in your calendar, OK?
The Crusher in the Tushar: July 13
This race — a mix of lots of dirt and paved road, with tons of climbing — utterly destroyed me last year. And I really want to do it again this year, partially to redeem myself, and partially to redeem myself some more.
But there’s a problem. Which is that it’s the same day as . . .
The Tour de Donut: July 13
I’ve done the Tour de Donut every year for the past three years (read my reports from 2010 and 2011). I love this crazy race, and love the way it inspired me to come up with the GranDonut race. I don’t want to miss it.
Choosing between these two is going to be an agonizing decision, made even more difficult by the fact that this weekend is also pretty much the best opportunity we have to go on a regular ol’ family vacation. Which means that instead of choosing one or the other of these fantastic events, I’ll have to choose . . . neither.
Life’s full of tough choices.
The Leadville 100: August 10
OK, I probably don’t really need to go on about this race (since I have already written about it a near-infinite number of times. But I’m doing it again, going for my 16th finish. More importantly, The Hammer will also be racing it, going for her 8th finish, and putting her in spitting distance of getting her 1000-mile buckle.
By which time, of course, I’ll be close to getting my 2000-mile buckle, and the cycle goes on and on and on.
Rebecca’s Private Idaho: September 1
For this first year, Rebecca’s Private Idaho — a dirt-road Fondo in Sun Valley, ID — is an actual private event this year. The Hammer won’t be joining me for this event — I’ll be soloing it.
And I intend to do all 100 miles on a World Bicycle Relief bike, to show exactly how impressively tough these $134 bikes are. Anyone wanna ride on the rear rack?
Salt to Saint: September 20
This is a relay from Salt Lake City to St. George. But there’s a solo option available and I want to try it. I’ve never ridden 430 miles at a stretch before. In fact, my longest road ride is 200-ish miles (I did the STP back when I lived in Seattle). So this intrigues me.
Later, I suspect that “intrigue” will migrate to “terrifies.”
Levi’s Gran Fondo: October 5
This is, bar none, my favorite annual event. The course is amazing. The people are great. The post-ride festival is wonderful. And we do some ridiculous fundraising that does a lot of good for both kids and animals. Check out the video below:
Registration’s open as of today, by the way, so you might want to get yourself registered pronto. Otherwise, count on not being able to get in.
25 Hours in Frog Hollow: November
For years, I’ve wanted to see if I could do a 24 hour race solo. This year, I’m going to try it. My sole criterion for claiming a victory is completing it, without ever taking a break of longer than ten minutes between laps.
I believe this will make for an interesting story.
2013 is looking to be a pretty ride-ful year. Hey, if you’re not busy, maybe you should join me for one or two or half a dozen of these rides.
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