Sporting Declaration: An honest mistake

Artwork: Grant Sproule
Artwork: Grant Sproule

THE truth will set you free.

What noble sentiments, Sporting Declaration thought to myself, as the once great man Lance Armstrong fessed up last week to Oprah Winfrey.

Coming clean was a cathartic moment in the life of the former seven-time - now zero times - winner of the Tour de France.

And while some have questioned Armstrong's motives in baring his soul, I for one had no doubt about his genuine remorse.

The big fella made a mistake, sure. A teensy, weensy error in judgment.

But you have to understand the circumstances.

Lancey-boy did not really want to take the laboratory-load of drugs that helped him move faster on two wheels than any man since Evel Knievel.

But as an inspiration to hundreds of millions of fans, there was an onus on him to win.

Anything less than the yellow jersey would have been letting down his legion of supporters.

Hence, he selflessly pumped himself full of elephant juice for their sake. That's just the type of guy he is.

When eventually he was ratted out by traitorous former teammates, he bravely accepted the punishment he labelled a "death penalty" without complaint.

His tell-all interview was obviously a therapeutic experience.

Despite popular consensus, which would have you believe that it was little more than a PR exercise and belated attempt at damage control, yours truly believes Armstrong was ready to volunteer the information regardless of being busted.

He would have done it years ago but did not want to disappoint his followers.

But there is only so long a man can wrestle with his conscience.

Much as he hated himself for telling a few little white lies to the world, he knew honesty would break millions of hearts.

It was a no-win situation. Well, no win if you don't include his seven Tour victories.

Eventually every man has his breaking point. He had to let his fans down gently. And painful as his admission obviously was, the truth has set Lance free.

After Armstrong's televised cleansing, this columnist couldn't help pondering how good it would be if other celebrities followed in his footsteps and revealed their innermost secrets.

Imagine Wayne Bennett, for instance, declaring his burning ambition to sing Bohemian Rhapsody on Australian Idol, Israel Folau confirming he would defect to lawn bowls if the price was right, or Liz Hurley admitting she didn't know what true love was until Warney showed her his flipper.

But I digress.

Back to Livestrong Lance.

Many have taken umbrage at his desire to have his life ban from professional sport reduced so that he can one day compete again in endurance events, such as the Hawaiian Ironman or marathon running.

I'm tipping that even in best-case scenario, if the anti-doping Nazis show some leniency, he won't be raising a competitive sweat until he is at least 50.

But therein lies the perfect chance to make Armstrong pay his penance.

Let's give him a nominal suspension of, say, eight years, during which he is not only drug-tested every hour of every day but banned from doing any physical activity more strenuous than walking to the fridge.

During his purgatory, Armstrong would be required to drink at least a six-pack of beer and eat one large pizza and one large slice of chocolate mud cake every day.

If he met all these requirements, then he would be cleared to enter the 2021 Tour de France - on the proviso he does not even touch a bike until the peloton assemble at the start line.

Then we will have the real measure of Lance Armstrong.

Drug-free and suffering like any other mere mortal. Living proof that cheats never prosper.


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