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Lance Armstrong
Which Lance Armstrong?
The emotions, impulses and mysterious drives that might have fueled the cheating Tour champion—and the honest one
ByChristie Aschwanden
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One thing that is apparent when it comes to Lance Armstrong is that, for some people, his guilt or innocence won’t be decided by USADA. There will always be, to some extent, two versions of the man: The one who is honest and never doped, or the one who lied and doped.

[ Lance Armstrong's Endgame ]

We asked two experts—forensic psychologist Ken Manges, and Paul Ekman, a renowned researcher on lying and liars—to help us understand what sort of internal machinations and motivations might be at work in either possibility. While neither Manges nor Ekman would comment directly on Armstrong, both offered insights into the traits, personality types, and reactions most common among celebrities who have faced allegations of dishonesty, cheating, corruption or similar wrongdoing. What follows are two imagined fictional character sketches based on that input.

PART 1: THE EARLY RACING YEARS
LYING LANCE showed amazing talent from the start. His first taste of success came fast and early, and winning was a potent high. He liked the taste of victory—the admiration and envy of his fellow racers, the pride each win provoked in his beloved mother, and the thrill of finding all eyes on him. Lying Lance quickly become a sensation and nationally respected champion, then repeated his success on a worldwide stage. There was no doubt in his mind that he was destined for greatness. He’d always been cocky—he’d admit as much in his best-selling memoir—and his narcissistic streak was blooming along with his cycling career. He would become the world’s greatest cyclist—this outcome felt preordained—but Lying Lance was impatient. He’d do whatever it took to get him there.

HONEST LANCE was clearly better than his competition from the moment he clipped his feet in the pedals of his first racing bicycle. Unschooled in racing strategy, he’d make tactical mistakes, like going to the front and attacking right from the start, and he’d win easily despite his stupidity. Honest Lance thrived on the thrill of victory and trained his ass off to keep his winning streak alive. Other riders offered him drugs, assuming that a guy as competitive as him was likely to partake, but Honest Lance was so good he didn’t need their dope. Even so, drug rumors circulated. No one could quite believe that he’d gotten that fast, that quickly, without cheating, least of all the guys who had spent their careers chasing goals that he’d achieved in his first two seasons as a pro. But Honest Lance was unfazed. He knew what he was—a champion—and nothing could stop him.

[ USADA vs. Armstrong: Injustice for All ]

PART 2: BATTLING CANCER
LYING LANCE wondered, if only for a split second, whether the cancer he had just been diagnosed with, which had started in his testes and then spread to his brain and lungs, might have something to do with all those performance-enhancing drugs he’d taken. He told himself this couldn’t be, since everyone was taking dope, and he was the only guy he knew with testicular cancer. But cancer scared him shitless, so when the doctor in that hospital room asked if he’d done drugs, he confessed—yes, growth hormone, cortisone, EPO, steroids, and testosterone—he’d done them all. It was no big deal, really, because every cyclist did it and everyone present in that room knew that doping was just a mundane job requirement for the cycling professional. Drugs were merely a tool of the trade, his talent was what made him a winner. Besides, there’s something particularly unseemly about blaming a cancer on its victim, and in this way, cancer felt like a protective cloak.

HONEST LANCE knew about the rumors that swirled around the cycling community after his cancer diagnosis. He’d spent his early career dodging the envy of other racers who saw what he did and deemed it impossible. He was good, damn good, and when you’re that shiny, your competition will stop at nothing to tear you down. Cancer was a formidable enemy, but he would beat it. And this victory would make him a better person. The truth was, he’d been a punk in his youth—he’d say this in It’s Not About the Bike. Cancer was his shining moment—an unforeseen opportunity for redemption. The hero that rose from his brush with death was focused and genuine. He was irrevocably changed, and he was ready to man up and become a hero.



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Comments

what am I on I'm on my bike
If you spend even one hour learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, everything about Lance Armstrong makes complete sense. NPD now has a new poster child: http://onemomsbattle.com/Narcisstic+Personality+disorder+Lance+Armstrong
I have been an avid reader for years. I enjoy the magazine.. until the past year that is. Why does the staff at Bicyling hate Lance Armstrong so much?? Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I am not about to advocate whether Lance is guilty or innocent but your magazine is so anti-Lance its become comical, I see a Lance headline and know it will be slander before I even read it. As journalist you should know better,, You obviously use his name and image to sell magazines, yet force your negative views on the cycling community rather than present a constructive article. It decreases the validity of other articles in your magazine. I am sure my opinion matters little to you, just shocked by what I read in this magazine sometimes.
Where do you guys come up with this crap you should be ashamed!
Good job somebody spoke out !!!
This article presents two sides though I feel it could be someplace between. The kid lance could be honest and over time peer pressure turned to drug use... a common problem even with recreational drugs and other narcotics with teens... Then perhaps due to the cancer he had a "found religion" experience and due to the loss of his "swimmer/triathalon" build and special cycling specific training... along with specific focus on the tour... perhaps with conviction that is he did anything with his life is to focus on that one race not knowing if he could relapse into cancer.
We have lost sight of justice. Lance was tested approximately 500 times during his career. He never failed a single drug test at the time the test was done. That has been up until today, the standard in cycling. It is also the only fair way to go. This is a contest, and all participants must be judged by a single standard, the same standard. Now it seems there are two standards, one for L.A., and another for the rest of the sport. In 1989, Pedro Delgado won his second Tour de France. That year he also tested positive for a gout medication. When asked by the press if Pedro suffered from gout, his doctor responded that Pedro was a very healthy young man. So why was Pedro taking a medicine for gout? He was using it because that medication could be used as a masking agent for steroids. As a matter of fact, that substance was scheduled to be banned later that year, and was. Was there a big investigation to see if Pedro was using steroids? No, because by the rules, he passed the best test of the day. This was the same test and standard that all the other riders in that race had to meet. Now we have the case of Lance Armstrong. He passed all the drug controls of the day. He passed the same controls that every other rider was subjected to each of those eight years. So he won fair and square? Not by the new standard. By the new standard, if you can get a group of people to say you took a banned substance, then you are guilty of taking that substance. Even if we say that for the sake of argument that Lance did pull out a vial labeled EPO, and did inject himself with this substance. How do we know that the vial really contained EPO? His doctor could have been filling the vials himself with a placebo to make Lance think he should be getting stronger. After all, he never once tested positive by the tests of that day. I am not naïve; it is more likely than not that Lance did use drugs from time to time. That is not the point. At the time of the testing, he was just as not guilty as any of the other riders that passed the screening. He should not be held to a greater standard. That is just not fair. We should be ashamed of what we have done in the name of cleaning up a tainted sport. Cycling may have been and even still is tainted, but now it is also blemished by an injustice done to one man, the best cyclist to ever ride the tour, Lance Armstrong.
I really had no interest in LA until the level of pursuit against him. I think the people who are chasing are more interested in trophy hunting than improving the sport. Lance Rode the bike and won. 7 years have gone by. Let it go. Deal with current events.
And lets hope the out and out cheat ..yes CHEAT .. is forgotten!
"Lance was tested approximately 500 times during his career" Incorrect : you are spouting Armstrong PR (or 600 times if you believe his lawyer) - the number is much closer to 200-230. "it is more likely than not that Lance did use drugs from time to time" - well we'll assume from that you are saying he is a drug cheat and USADA is correct to nail him. "He should not be held to a greater standard " He isn't - the USADA charging letter relates to 2009/2010 Radioshack as well as earlier years and its not just Armstrong - the charging letter relates to a conspiracy - he is only 1 of 6 people charged. "..ashamed.." " .. the best cyclist to ever ride the tour, Lance Armstrong " Are you for real ? The mans been banned for life as a drug cheat ; how can he be the best cyclist ? I don't dispute that there are many many other dopers in high level cycling but this does not condone a free pass for Armstrong. We need to clear out the big fish so we can rebuild with dope free athletes. Paolo Bettini has just stated that he will only take cyclists which are not "under suspicion" to the World Championship 2012 - just looking at who's not going (previously suspended for doping offences - Ivan Basso, Danilo di Luca, Alessandro Petacchi, Michele Scarponi - and riders identified in on-going investigations - Alessandro Ballan, Filippo Pozzato and Giovanni Visconti) reads like a who's who of contemporary Italian cycling - that's why we need to start at the top with Armstrong and Bruyneel and all the other DS's and take the sport right back to basics and start again.
I agree with pretty much everything you wrote (very well) here. Lance's statement has some extremely valid points and there is no feeling of justice for me today. I think he cheated. I also think he is not a very nice guy and that he arrogantly dared people to catch him. For all his tactical and presumed cheating genius, he was dumb about that.
I get that the Tour itself may well not readjust the standings but...uh...who exactly won those tours then? Didn't Jan Ullrich come in second to Lance 5 times or something? What sort of message would it be to give him the titles instead? If not him who? Lance was the champion of cheats. It seems quite reasonable to conclude, to me, that if there were no PEDs he would have won anyway. It's a shame the sport couldn't have found a more dignified way to expose its troubled past and move on. It's also a shame that L.A. is such an egotistical, arrogant a-hole. Things could definitely have been different. Some kind of international amnesty coupled with brutally honest admissions from top athletes could have really cleared the air. I'm wearing a Livestrong bracelet as I type this. The man did get cancer which spread to his brain and for which he was given 50-50 odds of survival. He did set up a foundation before he became a megastar and he did devote a lot of time and effort to it. He did win the hardest race in the world, 7 times in a row, against a bunch of fellow cheats. This is still an incredible achievment when you consider the inherent chaos of the race. He did come in third after coming back from retirement, at nearly 40, and at a time when he almost surely wasn't cheating.
Yes, it's a shame Lance is an a-hole. But it isn't in the least surprising. It would have been much more novel to find a genuinely nice guy at the top of a global sport, where a sociopath's focus and drive, undistracted by qualms of conscience or self-doubt, are inarguably an asset. This is the legacy of pro sports, to tease out the least-human among us and anoint them as super-human, redefining, to the degree to which the athletes' ethos is incorporated into societal standards, our view of to what humanity should aspire.
By pleading no contest and having all his medals stripped Lance will avoid the experience of listening to teammate after teammate describe in intimate detail how they all doped together. Hopefully this will put a end to the protracted drama and Lance will drift away into obscurity.
"so when the doctor in that hospital room asked if he’d done drugs, he confessed—yes, growth hormone, cortisone, EPO, steroids, and testosterone—he’d done them all. It was no big deal, really, because every cyclist did it and everyone present in that room knew that doping was just a mundane job requirement for the cycling professional." As a physician, this episode has always bothered me. First, I simply can't imagine a doctor would ask this question in front of a room full of people. That's a legal violation of HIPPA regulations. But if he did ask and receive this answer it would be gross malpractice and a violation of all ethical principles to not record it in the medical record as part of important information about the patient. I have read the deposition of a different physician who read the chart and testified that there was nothing in Lance's hospital chart about this supposed admission of his using PEDs. So who is the liar???
Doc Ott-bic, I too am a physician, and I had the wonderful opportunity of working on Dr Einhorn's team while a medical student at IU School of Medicine. I have posted basically the same argument several times on other cycling posts. Knowing the functioning of Dr Einhorn's team around the time of the alleged hospital confession, I can assure everyone, that if Lance had made such a medically significant revelation to any of the doctors or medical students, it would have been included in the medical record. I would like to add that as a physician and scientist, I am skeptical of the biological passport. Almost every day, I find smokers with hematocrits > 50. If smoking can raise your henatocrits this much, why is it not possible that riding 6-8 hours per day at high intensity, sleeping in an altitude tent, and eating a high nutrient diet could not significantly alter your hematocrit? Also, most competitive athletes have significant periodization schedules, I would expect wide variations in their physiologic parameters.
Hmmmm .. Glad you're not my Doctor ...
As a physician you should know it is HIPAA...you should also know that it wasn't around when that conversation would have happened, and that everyone was just a little more informal and relaxed back then. Having said that I absolutely agree that this info should have been in the medical record, but the omission could have been meant to protect L.A. as reporters and others used to protect celebrities and politicians.
Although not in its current form (HIPAA), privacy rules were most certainly in place in the early 90's and observed (or supposed to be observed) in every hospital I worked in in that era. I clearly remember needing to enforce this. I always wondered, myself, at taking the patient (LA) to a conference room to have his history taken yet allowing an entourage to tag along. Just doesn't make sense to me, but I see equally silly things happen in teaching hospitals, and not rarely, such as neglecting to ask who the visitors are in the room before launching into a discussion of a very personal nature.