Dear Lance Armstrong

Dear Lance Armstrong:

Tonight the world will flip their TV channels to the Oprah network. Reporters and bloggers will flock to see what it is that you shared with the woman who stands at the pulpit of the modern day confessional.  News stations will report on it for days.

I don’t know a lot but I know for certain I won’t be there. With the exception of what flies by as I scroll my twitter and facebook feeds, I will not read.  I will not click links, I will not pick up the newspaper or magazine. I am determined to not care about you anymore.

You don’t know me, and you most likely never will. Two years ago I would have been among crowds that clamor to see you when you walk in a room or appear at their triathlon, biathlon or marathon.  If you are ever at a race I run the only thing I will do is try to run faster than you now. But I digress, because tonight I face a dilemma. Tonight I try to decide what to do with three items in my closet: a shirt, a bracelet, and a book.

The book I got for Christmas when I was fourteen or fifteen. I remember being enamoured with the man who fought with cancer, and fought hard. I remember going out and buying the second book a few years later.  I remember thinking “this guy has it right” and when things got difficult soldiering on because “if Lance could do THAT, I can do anything.”

In many ways you were the only athletic hero I had for a while (then the US women’s and later Canadian women’s Olympic soccer teams came along… and I’m so grateful for that now).

I have read and re-read your book.

I supported Livestrong, hence the bracelet. Okay, fine, I still support Livestrong. I don’t think that in the end it is their fault they had such a crappy example at the helm.

So the bracelet stays. The book? Not sure yet.

But the shirt? I raced in that shirt. You and your actions are irrevocably tied together and to that shirt. You were the man who battled and conquered cancer, the man who was fighting against the evils of the world, both those accusing him of doping and the cancer that has taken so much from so many of us.  You became your own news story (ironically Oprah’s identity is much the same, she has become the good deeds she performs).  We put you up on a pedestal and now you have fallen, hard.  And that shirt not only represents the charity that you grew but also you. When I raced in that shirt, a part of me raced for you.  And that makes me mad.

I don’t care that you doped. The guy in 59th, 71st, and 147th also probably doped and you beat them.  Seven times. I don’t doubt your competitive drive or athleticism.

But to lie? What message does that send to those of us who believed in you, who defended you?

I’ll tell you what it says to me.

It says you just want to race again. That your competitive nature has driven you to an apology. That you do not care that you have literally spit on people and thrown people under the bus who did nothing but support you.  You have bullied people out of their careers for choosing to question you.  You’re out to cut your losses.

You put the work of your charity and the money they have raised, those hardworking people who believed in you and your cause at risk.

Like I said, I don’t care about the doping. I don’t know what it is like in the world of competitive, top level athletes.  I don’t know the pressures, I don’t know the stress.  And I won’t pretend that I do.

But I do know where my moral compass points. I do know the kind of people I want to be surrounded with. I do know the people who, when I inevitably write my memoir – even if it is just in my own journal – I will give credit to for being an inspiration.

You see, Lance, I have this imaginary neighbourhood. Thanks to Robin Sharma, I created this street full of people who inspire me because it helped me define the qualities I want in my own life and in the people I choose to surround myself with.

I live near Mother Teresa and Princess Diana, near Brandi Chastain and Christine Sinclair. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Pierre Elliiot Trudeau come over for tea. Bart Yasso and I go for runs. And you and I used to bike.

But you’re moving out. And so is your shirt.  I just can’t forgive the lies.

Evicted.

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17 responses to “Dear Lance Armstrong

  1. Nice letter! I, too, read both books and followed his shining example. I think Sally Jenkins, who stood by him for so long, must feel totally shafted. I did watch last night, but what I saw was a man who isn’t really sorry, who says “I’m sorry she got hurt” not “I’m sorry I hurt her” and who treated people so badly he can never apologize enough. And I agree, this is all so he can race again. And because he can no longer hide.

    • I actually managed to not watch (I’m kind of impressed with myself, because in the end I almost caved), but it feels to me all so he can get back to racing. I don’t know what his life was life, and don’t pretend to, but the lying I just can’t get over. He can’t hide, and I think that’s why this all happened. Thank you for reading and for your comments!

  2. Hey! Just wanted to let you know I nominated you for the Liebster Award. You can check it out on my blog post at http://gettinmyhealthyon.com/2013/01/18/liebster-award-random-facts-about-me/

  3. I don’t have room for liars and deceit in my life either. EXCELLENT post.

    • Thank you! I don’t think it would bother me if he had lied for let’s say, two weeks, while he figured out what to do. But for so long? All it did was hurt those around him who were trying to help. I shudder thinking of the staff of Livestrong and the crazy roller coaster they’ve gone through this week. And all they do is try to help others. That’s their job.

  4. I love your imaginary neighborhood. Can I visit?
    I’ll bring food to the neighborhood potluck!

  5. Well put. I can’t add more.

  6. Well said! That is why you live on my street! I am sharing this! Well said!

  7. So righteous. Have you had cancer? So easy to sit back and judge. Unless you went through what he did, I find it hard to judge. Also sounds like he inspired you when you were younger, so if you are going to blame him for being a liar, you should also blame him for the good he did for you “attitude shift-if lance can do that, I can do anything”. Ya it sucks he lied.
    I know a lot of people that have benefited from livestrong, and without him, that org would not be where it is and have helped so many people. In the end it was a lie and it’s about cycling, competing, winning. He has to live with what he did. People will move on but he will live with it forever.I have to think there are people out there doing much worse without inspiring millions along the way.

    • To be completely frank, I haven’t had cancer. I’ve lost three close relatives to it and had friends who have benefited from Livestrong who I went to high school with. I don’t take issue with the doping, as I point out multiple times in my letter. And I actually support Livestrong completely, I just think its unfortunate that they and the people they support now have an uphill battle because of Lance’s actions. Many donors are requesting millions that they have donated back (which I think is ridiculous, because clearly its already gone to help others). That organization faces a serious donor battle now and there are multiple articles documenting this.

      I don’t deny Lance had a huge impact on my self-esteem and my ability to stand up and support myself and move through things that are tough. I will happily give him credit for that. However, I think that’s why in the end I am really upset. I feel duped, let down in a way. I will never deny his athletic ability, his amazing come back from cancer, or that his organization and the outreach they do does good for our world.

      But there is no excuse for lying about it for so long. If he can give me one, I would happily listen and maybe even re-write my letter in response. I appreciate your comment, because it really got me thinking. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  8. Mixed comment here – you clearly hit on something good! I’m fascinated by the way everyone has reacted, and I can see how yo would feel so let down and pissed off. I’m not ok with the doping or the lying – but you’re right, the lying is worse. I was never really into the Lance Armstrong bandwagon, but thank you for giving me a perspective I didn’t have – the man who inspired so many to reach their dreams…who turns out to be a fraud.

    • I definitely hit a nerve with this one! But discussion is the point of a blog and I remain unapologetic for anything I said as it was all true to my opinion! It was so shocking to feel so betrayed by someone I’d never met — it really gave me food for thought.

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