Does Lance Armstrong Matter?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Last night's interview with Oprah Winfrey began with a litany of "Yes" answers to questions about doping. Mike Pesca, NPR sports correspondent and panelist on the Slate sports podcast "Hang Up and Listen", discusses Lance Armstrong's admission and what it says about sports, the media, heroes, and cheating. Plus: whether the strange tale of Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend has any similar lessons.

Comments [38]

Create a NO TESTING Sports League from A league of their own.

Perhaps it's time to create a SEPERATE sports league
that DOES NOT TEST. This league will undoubtedly provide
equal or higher quality sports performance and a loyal
crowd of fans who realize that it is ATHLETE not what they're
on that matters.

Do those medications improve performance ?

Probably. EPO can also be obtained by training at altitude.
Steroid hormones are naturally higher in younger people.
Some people with naturally occuring pituitary adenomas
grow taller than others and have (un)natural advantage
in sports. There are probably also many genetic difference -
for example in muscle fibre types and distribution - and in myriads
of other factors that give an unfair "natural" advantage to SOME.
Why not allow for MODERN technology to help EQUALIZE the playing
field so the difference is REALLY ABOUT THE ATHLETE - not their
age or beneficial genetic abnormalities.

Is this Dangerous ?

SEVERE DAMAGE (for example Stroke) from EPO or steroids or other
medications ? It's probably VANISHINGLY SMALL.

Where is the evidence that it causes MORE severe risks than
the SPORTS themselves ?

We allow people to CHOOSE to take severe brain trauma and injury
from professional boxing. We allow people to CHOOSE to
risk paralysis and death from champion level skiing.

If the MORALISM and finger wagging were stopped, athletes could
have top quality medical supervision.

We might even learn something about how to SAFELY improve
performance in an ageing or injured body.


It will leave the "naturalist" ideologues in the dust of history.
Athletics will again be about the athlete not chemistry and revisionist

Jan. 18 2013 07:20 PM
Aaron from Jersey City

One of Armstrong's worst legacies will be his promotion of the now widespread belief that you can "beat" cancer if you simply have the work ethic and strength of character to do so. (Mike Pesca wisely questioned this myth.) Nothing could be farther from the truth. As one who lost a 14 year old daughter and a mother to cancer, the propagation of this myth (and use of it to excuse bad behavior) is nothing short of disgusting. My daughter and mother both wanted to live more than anything in the world and fought valiantly. They had the latest in high tech treatment. But they lost the fight. Lance Armstrong was lucky. He was given a second chance by the fates and he squandered that chance denied to so many others.

Jan. 18 2013 11:45 AM

Kids start using this stuff in HIGH SCHOOL!!

Maybe this conversation is more about the INSANITY of professional sports!!

Jan. 18 2013 11:44 AM

If you're looking to professional sports for integrity paradigms, you are SERIOUSLY delusional!

WHO cares what professional athletes get up to??

The first question is why SHOULDN'T professional athletes use performance enhancing drugs??? They use EVERY other form of technology to boost performance!!

They're PROFESSIONALS!! They're entertainers, essentially!!

Could we PLEASE focus on REAL issues!!??

Profound SNOOZE!


Jan. 18 2013 11:41 AM
John A.

The Manti Te'o story actually resonates heavily with what I know of the Internet. This story will be added to as the Myspace etc. generation starts writing memoirs. The first such story out may be the movie "Catfish".

Jan. 18 2013 11:28 AM

Exactly! Both examples highlight the downfalls and prevalence of myth-making in America, and how that ties into commodifying personality for commercialization, corporatization, and how we all buy it.

Jan. 18 2013 11:28 AM
francyne pelchar from Pelham Bay Park

I have no sympathy for Lance Armstrong; he made $$$ from his doping. Don't care about the other guy with the imaginary dead girl friend. Till this nonsense came out, I had never even heard of him. An adult man with an imaginary girl friend need to see a shrink.

Jan. 18 2013 11:26 AM
Jameel from Central NJ

I think Linda Holmes raised a significant issue in the Armstrong matter (, particularly where it concerns his responses to questioning about doping:

What does Lance's response mean for those who have the "right" to respond with indignation when accused about something that is not true?

Jan. 18 2013 11:26 AM
Zachary Dominitz from nyc

Hello! The Notre Dame football player is GAY!!! It's a cover, and how great would it be if he came out and moved the whole conversation forward to something that matters more than sexual preference.

Jan. 18 2013 11:26 AM

Technology and medical advances are part of evolution. Should we not be discussing the future of competitive sports with these enhances? This is inevitably part of our future, and is currently happening. Why not figure out how to regulate this and work with it as it will only become more and more prevalent in society.

Jan. 18 2013 11:25 AM
mike from Brooklyn

I'm all for allowing the athletes to blood dope, take whatever they like - the supervising authorities can't control it and it seems to be the future. Wasn't LeMonde having an advantage with being born with a more efficient and larger heart than average?

Jan. 18 2013 11:24 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

Richard, the first caller, hit it on the head: this is a reveal that supports the lie that is all professional sports. Where there are great financial odds on the line, any athlete is capable (and more likely compelled) to do anything. This is why many of us don't want our taxes going to support the construction of short-shelf-life sports facilities that Professional Sports demands we do, else they take their marbles and go elsewhere. I've heard it said before: professional sports is simply a corporate cartel, making billions for itself. Time those under the illusion walk away. Armstrong is only one of many who made the mistake of getting caught.

As to the "beating cancer" idea put forth by Armstrong, I can say it's legit. Christopher Hitchens wrote powerfully of the marketing of cancer, and all the messaging associated with it, drummed into the heads of the vulnerable. Who are they if they're not trying to "beat it," for whatever that means.

I have a brother who had testicular cancer at 30. It was allowed to spread rather aggressively in his body by misdiagnosis (and delay in his pursuit of treatment) and his recovery was exceptional. When he was officially in remission, his entire demeanor became one of superhuman self-belief, to the point of hubris and an almost ruthless bravado. His wife and family urged cognitive therapy, as he was destroying his relationships over it. He speaks now of how cancer helped his Type A personality morph into something almost superhuman. He is now, thankfully, far more humbled by it all.

Jan. 18 2013 11:24 AM
Howard Heyman from NJ

As with baseball during the age of steroids, the use of 'performance enhancing drugs', in cycling and who knows wherever else, i think the question is not that it was wrong, but that athletes DID use PED's and perhaps that leveled the playing field more than we know. Was Armstrong the best of the dopers?? Was Barry Bonds the best of the dopers in baseball? I think yes to both. It still takes high level coordination to hit a baseball as consistantly as Bonds did. And to win the Tour de France 7 times in a row? That takes a determination that you get from desire, not necessarily from drugs.

Jan. 18 2013 11:22 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yo, Brian just called Oprah, "Opera"...teehee...

Jan. 18 2013 11:20 AM
Robert from NYC

Well beating cancer is the other baloney that touches on the hearts of us (you) all. I beat cancer (so far), so what? Many others have too. And others ride bikes in important races. I bet some of them have beat cancer. The man is a big ego and knows how to screw kind-hearted Americans buy so readily and he cleaned up. I guess that's the American way!?

Jan. 18 2013 11:19 AM

Hi Brian,

I am wondering why we should care if sports stars use performance enhancing drugs or not. This, and the congressional hearings in the past, seems like a waste of taxpayer money and time and just becomes another circus in the American media. If people want to dope, so what? Not a big deal. It should be legal.

Thank you

Jan. 18 2013 11:18 AM
fuva from harlemworld

And, c'mon, Manti knew...He definitely lied.

Jan. 18 2013 11:18 AM
joelle from NYC

Of course it matters! What about all the other hard working cyclists who maybe should have placed higher but didn't because of Lance Armstrong's cheating? He's ruined the placements of cyclists for a decade!

Jan. 18 2013 11:16 AM
Robert from NYC

That's just the point, it's NOT just about sports! Listen to yourself. The man destroyed lives, lied, cheated, sewed people who told the truth, he was the "hero" the "Great American Hero" and you know he probably is as our culture has degenerated into the lower standards of human endeavors(?)! He doesn't have to sell drugs to kids what he did is bad too!

Jan. 18 2013 11:16 AM
fuva from harlemworld

"He's not out there peddling drugs to kids..." Wh-what? What has this got to do with the issues at hand? Whoever said he was a schoolkid drugpusher?...And Lance was ruthless, etc. before he got cancer...

Jan. 18 2013 11:15 AM

No intention of watching Armstrong interview. Whole thing is a tempest in a teapot. As for football player story -- it's just way too bizarre. Proves internet adage: online no one knows your a dog.

Jan. 18 2013 11:14 AM
The Truth from Becky

I care to know when he reports to jail?! Didn't the judge sentence Marion Jones to 6 months in jail for lying to the DA??

Jan. 18 2013 11:14 AM
pina from South Plainfield

The power of Oprah!

Jan. 18 2013 11:11 AM
Nick from UWS

Who the hell cares what happens to this arrogant bullying sociopath. Let him drift into obscurity where he belongs.

Jan. 18 2013 11:09 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

No - I could not possibly care less.

On the positive side, I'm glad that we've solved all of our real problems so that we have the time for this nonsense.

Jan. 18 2013 11:08 AM
sp from nyc

Don't know, don't care, please go back to substantive issues.

Jan. 18 2013 11:08 AM

ask google

Jan. 18 2013 10:43 AM

By the way?
Any link between his type of cancer and his form of doping?
I'm just staying....

Jan. 18 2013 10:41 AM

who cares!
The politicians and banks stole, the schools and priests molest, baseballers and sportsmen dope.
Everyone is greedy and selfish
If you believe in anyone or anything other than science (and maybe family and real friends) you are a fool and you deserve to be had
How is this lance any different than the libor dudes?
Everyone thinks they have the right to cheat. I blame nixon
Humans suck

Jan. 18 2013 10:37 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

dyob, Is your LieStrong too tight?

Jan. 18 2013 10:34 AM
Pablo Alto from Brooklyn, Yo!

Matters to me? Well, this story doesn't have a direct impact on my life in that sense. As bike rider, I am always amazed by what riders of the Tour du France accomplish. Riding over a hundred miles in a day up and down huge mountains is remarkable. I really don't consider the use of EPO and other endurance enhancements to be as egregious as steroids in baseball and especially football. I can "forgive" Mr. Armstrong for that transgression, especially considering his battle with cancer. Brushes with our own mortality changes us. That said....

What he did by going after people like Greg LeMond, Frank and Betsy Andreu, or Emma O'Reilly was horrendous. He purposefully sought out to ruin these people - their reputations and business opportunities were left in tatters - while KNOWING they were telling the truth. That is well beyond any redemptive actions related to his anti-cancer efforts, as positive as they were. That was telling.

I don't care about the corporations because they all got full value from their association with him. Mr. Armstrong should spend the rest of his days trying to make amends to those people he hurt through such actions.

Jan. 18 2013 10:30 AM


Jan. 18 2013 10:17 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

There must be a lot of people in the Obama administration who wear a LieStrong wristband. Remember Benghazi?

Jan. 18 2013 10:16 AM

I find it ironic that Lance is admitting to anything. He lied and bullied for many years because he wanted everyone to think he is great. Now that nobody cares about him, he wants to tell the truth with the hope of becoming some new sort of hero. But he is not a sympathetic figure, and I predict that his admissions will actually have the opposite effect. He could have faded away into obscurity, but now he is going to anger a new group of people and catch the attention of a new group of lawyers.

Jan. 18 2013 10:12 AM
John A.

Here's the typo that mattered, the correction is now this: "LieStrong"

Jan. 18 2013 10:10 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

"sewing"? Armstrong hired a tailor and not an attorney?

Jan. 18 2013 10:00 AM
Robert from NYC

And BYW I have no compassion for the man or whatever may happen to him Someone who hurts as many people as he did and in the ways he even sewing them when they were right deserves whatever comes his/her way and I walk away with indifference.

Jan. 18 2013 09:44 AM
Robert from NYC

No he never mattered to me. I never trusted the man but you know how Americans love "Heroes" and this was the perfect story with a "hero"! Well I don't believe in heroes, or at least not as easily as others do. We've lowered the standard of what a hero is as we have lowered the standard what is "right" is, and of course Bill Clinton lowered the level of what is is. BTW Lance Armstrong is still lying. I'm sure he's stashed a lot of his money where no one will ever find it so whatever he may have to pay out won't hurt him in the least. He's much too cool and reserved in his interview to convince me he's sorry for anything. The guy deceived everyone and he's proud of it. Why nor, right/

Jan. 18 2013 09:42 AM

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