Dear Lance Armstrong: Please Confess. We'll Forgive You.
Please, Lance. Just admit it. We will forgive you.
Your lawyer is already questioning the latest findings of the U.S. Anti- Doping Agency, dismissing its report “a one-sided hatchet job.” Call him off. There’s no room for plausible deniability anymore. It’s time for you to come clean -- personally, publicly and unambiguously.
This is no longer a battle over guilt or innocence, and a confession of guilt isn't the same thing as "losing" to some other cyclist (or, in this case, a self-righteous, quasi-governmental agency). This is about securing your legacy by telling the truth.
I have defended you before. You are a hero not just because you pedaled up a lot of steep hills on a bike, but also because you inspired millions by beating Stage 4 cancer and raising some half a billion dollars for cancer research and treatment.
For all of that, we have come to be that much more invested in who you are as a person. Some people, many people, have already written you off. I think you can still be remembered as something more than a doper, a liar or even a cyclist -- that your work as a philanthropist can turn all of the rest into just background noise. You told us in August, when you announced that you were giving up your fight against the USADA, that you were “finished with this nonsense.” Not quite. What you need to do now is take responsibility for what you have done. And for what you haven’t said.
Don’t pull a Robert McNamara and wait until the end of your life to admit you were wrong. Don’t pull a Bill Clinton and hedge with evasive language. Say it loud, and say it clear. This will be cathartic for everyone, including you and us. People understand that honesty is a virtue, and that all heroes have their flaws.
Given everything you’ve been through, it might be an overstatement to say that it will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But it may well be the smartest.
(Jonathan Mahler is a sports columnist for Bloomberg View. Follow him on Twitter.)
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