Dear Lance Armstrong,
It's hard to know even where to begin as I sit down to write this letter to you. You see, I was one of those people that believed in you completely. Even last week when I saw news reports that you were considering finally owning up to your years of deceit… well, I refused to believe that you have been lying about drug use all of these years. And now, tonight, I will tune in to watch you being interviewed by Oprah and I know that I will finally hear from your own mouth what everyone else seems to have known for some time now….
That you lied to me. To us, To the entire world. To those that believed what you said and what you wrote.
I guess the reason that I am taking this so hard is because you wrote a book… well two actually. Two books that I read and believed whole-heartedly. You told us your life story in those books. And you positioned yourself as THAT guy. The one we all want to believe exists- the one that overcame the odds and beat having cancer- who was able to survive even though all of the doctors gave you the slimmest of chances. You did it. You beat cancer. And in that huge and incredible act- you gave us all hope. Hope that our own loved ones could maybe, possibly do the same thing. You opened that door of hope for us, and made us think… “If Lance could do it, then why not this other young, strong, incredible person in front of me who also deserves to have a shot at life?” And this made you our hero.
You were given another opportunity to live your life. And you did so on the world cycling stage. And we all cheered for you and wanted this fairy-tale to be true. That someone could really and truly beat cancer and come back from that experience with an intact and healthy body- one that could compete at the highest levels. Someone who did that would NEVER poison their body with performance-enhacing drugs, would they?
But the press started to say that you did.
So then came all of the denials. Not just absence of confirmation.. but you railed and screamed and shouted from the mountain tops, as well as in those two books of yours, that you DID NOT DO THIS THING! You didn't. You made us believe, you made me believe that a man who had to inject and absorb the very worst kind of drugs that scientists can produce… the kind that kills cancer cells… that a person who lived through this would never, could NEVER put harmful drugs into his body again. Never.
“I have been on my deathbed, and I am not stupid” ….. “I can emphatically say I am not on drugs. I thought a rider with my history and my health situation woun't be such a surprise. I'm not a new rider. I know there's been looking, and prying, and digging, but you're not going to find anything. There's nothing to find…. and once everyone has done their due diligence and realizes they need to be professional and can't print a lot of crap, they'll realize they're dealing with a clean guy”. (“It's Not About The Bike”, Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins)
And I believed you.
You then went on the offensive, and accused everyone else- the press, other bikers, the agencies that were charged with protecting the integrity of the sport- of conspiring against you. You called them all liars. And I believed you.
In fact, quite a bit of your second book “Every Second Counts” is dedicated to outlining the claims made against you, and the reasons why every one of them is wrong. You explain,
“Part of the problem, I realized, was a fundamental lack of awareness among the public (and the prosecutors) about just how grueling cycling really is. Medical treatments were an absolute necessity. The Tour de France is not a natural event. We ride more than 100 miles a day for three straight weeks, through incredible and changing conditions. Some cars wouldn't hold up under that physical stress, much less a human body. We needed help, in the form of IVs of vitamins, minerals, and phosphates. You simply can't eat or drink enough to make up for that kind of depletion, to replace all the things you expend. Those IVs and syringes were health essentials.”
So is this going to the position that you take tonight on Oprah? That “this is the way it is”?
You proclaimed your innocence and disparaged those who made the claims that you used illegal performance-enhancing drugs to win your races. You battled back from one of the worst diseases on the planet, and then sacrificed your own body for the chance to win.
I will watch this interview, although I don't know if I will be able to believe anything that you say in it. ‘Cuz now I know you just lie to protect your own interests. And then I am done with you Lance. Done. Your lies broke my heart.