Here he comes again, poor old Lance, given such a tough time for just doing what everyone else was doing. Can’t we just give the guy a break and let him keep all his money and live out his life in peace in his Aspen cinema room surrounded by all those framed yellow jerseys?
No. Because the cheating bastard just still doesn’t get it. At least not on the evidence of his latest interview. On a crackly telephone line, perhaps from those sofas on which he sprawled in pathetic defiance exactly a year ago, he told the BBC he would testify with “100 per cent transparency and honesty” at any future doping inquiry (big of him) but qualified his promise with a plea for fairness and a moan about how hard life has been - as if he were a victim.
“It's been tough,” he said. “It's been real tough. I've paid a high price in terms of my standing within the sport, my reputation, certainly financially because the lawsuits have continued to pile up. I have experienced massive personal loss, massive loss of wealth while others have truly capitalised on this story.”
By “others” he presumably means those cyclists who have testified against him, sometimes in return for relative leniency, and sometimes in the course of cashing in on book deals. Of those - and sadly we are talking about pretty much the whole peloton during his reign - he said: “If everyone gets the death penalty, then I'll take the death penalty. If everyone gets a free pass, I'm happy to take a free pass. If everyone gets six months, then I'll take my six months.”
This is where Armstrong tries to have his EPO and inject it (or something). It’s been tough, Lance, precisely because you were not just doing what everyone else was doing. You were doing that and way more. Let’s not forget that the US doping authorities ruled Armstrong was the key player in “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
He was not, say, the impressionable young cyclist swiftly made aware that he has no career unless he take part in his team’s doping programme. Armstrong was the programme, and he publicly vilified and ostracised any rider or person who dared to resist it, or challenge his hero mythology. Of the two women who emerged as brave whistleblowers, he tried to discredit one by implying she was a drunk and a prostitute. One of his associates, meanwhile, left a voicemail for the other woman in which he said he hoped somebody would break a baseball bat over her head.
He also defrauded the dozens of companies who invested millions in his brand by lying to them and the world, the source of the lawsuits that are his biggest financial headache. His cruel betrayal of the cancer victims for whom he had been a hero, meanwhile, is a moral failure but not the crime for which he must still take ultimate responsibility.
When a large number of people are complicit in systemic crime, their punishment necessarily varies. Armstrong is the mafia don - the murderer who gets hit harder than his accomplices, who may or may not have accepted plea bargains. So, yes, Lance, to use your typically dramatic analogy, you get the death penalty. If you want to be 100 per cent transparent for once, great - about time - but if you still want to play victim, go away and think about that before you do rock up at any inquiry.