Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey is generating global headlines today. According to the Associated Press, Armstrong admitted during their conversation that he used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) while winning his seven Tour de France cycling trophies. Winfrey will not confirm or deny that statement, abiding by her agreement with Armstrong not to discuss the interview in detail before it airs. She did state, “I would say he did not come clean in the manner that I expected. It was surprising to me.”
Here’s the background: last October, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency removed Armstrong’s Tour de France titles, stating that it had discovered “the most sophisticated professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” His major sponsors dropped him; his cancer charity soon cut ties and changed its name to The Livestrong Foundation.
If he does admit using PEDs, his disclosure could come at a high cost. He could face perjury charges, because he testified in a 2005 court case that he had never used PEDs. The U.K.’s Sunday Times is already suing Armstrong for up to $1.6 million regarding a libel payment to him in 2004 after the newspaper alleged he had cheated. A Texas insurance company is also seeking $11 million over insured performance bonuses paid to Armstrong after he won his last three Tour de France titles. And the Justice Department announced yesterday that it will join a lawsuit seeking the return of sponsorship money paid by the U.S. Postal Service to Armstrong’s racing team.
In light of all this, why would he admit doping now? According to The Wall Street Journal, Armstrong wants to compete in sanctioned triathlons, which could be his most reliable source of future income. The USADA would have to lift its ban on his participation in such competitions.
If Armstrong used illegal PEDs to win his titles, lied about them, then admitted their use when such honesty served his purpose, what would that make him? Unfortunately, one of the vast majority of Americans. Surveys indicate that 91 percent of us lie regularly. One in five of us can’t get through a single day without telling a lie. In a postmodern society that believes “truth” is personal and subjective, Lance Armstrong’s behavior is neither surprising nor unusual.
Here’s God’s warning to our culture: “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free” (Proverbs 19:5). Lance Armstrong’s tragic fall from celebrity to disgrace illustrates the truth of Scripture. How is his story relevant to yours?