I should say up front that I have never liked Lance Armstrong. Mostly, it’s because he reminds me of cocky Texas boys I knew back in the day. (I’m thinking of the ones who didn’t want to kiss me or be my boyfriends because they already had girlfriends.) So, I’m not objective at all. Add to my own Texas baggage my impression that he dumped his wife who stood by him during his cancer, and then he dumped Ms. Sheryl Crow when she had breast cancer, and there’s not a lot of room left for compassion, admiration, or pity. (Yes, I get my information from Us Magazine and my fact checker is on vacation.)
So, no I don’t feel sorry for Armstrong who is being stripped of his Tour de France titles because of the lengthy battle to determine whether he used performance enhancing drugs or engaged in blood doping. I think he’s guilty but had enough people protecting him that he never got caught. (This is not a reflection on the institution that granted me my law degree; it’s a reflection of my emotionally-led thinking.) Click here to read about the significant flaws in the process by which Armstrong has been accused and charged with using performance enhancing drugs.
And, I recognize he has raised an amazing amounts of money for cancer research, which, regardless of what he did or didn’t do, is using his power for society’s good.
So why am I refusing to rally for Armstrong, who deserves fair procedures, even if I have dismissed him as a commitment-phobe who enjoys cavorting around with around Matthew McConaughey? I am a lawyer, don’t I care about the presumption of innocence?
I find my reaction to Armstrong curious in light of my reaction to the scandal that plagued Tiger Woods in 2009. They are very different matters of course: Woods’ scandal was private (read sexual), between him and his wife. It didn’t implicate golf directly. Perhaps more importantly, it’s none of my business what Tiger did with other women or even that he married a stunning Swedish model slash nanny in the first place.
More curious still, I’ve seen lots of interviews with Woods– he’s not exactly oozing humility and warm fuzzies.
But when Woods’ troubles bubbled to the surface and became national news, I wanted to give him a hug. I believed he suffered from an addiction and a deep soul sickness, which resulted in him taking actions that hurt a lot of people (his wife, primarily). I didn’t feel hatred or contempt for him– I hoped he would go into treatment and get help. I believed he could heal and recover from the malady that wreaked such havoc on his family.
So where’s my impulse to hug Lance? He’s banned for life from cycling for God’s sake. Where are my charitable thoughts? He has not failed a single drug test, but I have made him guilty and refused to muster any compassion for him.
Maybe it’s the power of remorse, which Woods has expressed here, along with accountability for his actions (none of which Woods owes me), that endears me to Woods.
I honestly can’t picture Armstrong being remorseful or taking responsibility for his actions. Maybe if he did, I would want to give him a hug. But, until then I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t go into criminal law, because I seem pretty willing to brush aside Constitutional presumptions just because the alleged guilty party reminds me of a frat guy who didn’t want to take me to the Winter Formal.
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Anyone else have a reaction to Lance Armstrong’s announcement last week that he will no longer fight the charges against him? Have you followed his case? Could you ever ride a bike straight up a mountain like he did– with or without drugs? Can you recommend a better news source than Us Magazine read when I can sneak away for a pedicure? Do you want to hug Tiger?