Bob Denny: Lance Armstrong let us down
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 10:44 p.m.
CNN ran an interview with Tyler Hamilton, a past roommate of bicycle champion Lance Armstrong.
Tyler told the story of their cycling careers, and as Lance's roommate, learning to use performance enhancing substances like steroids and EPO doping. He talked about how doping is widespread in most sports, like in the cases of baseball greats Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens
Sports commissions have investigated and found many of our "heroes" to have used drugs for an unfair advantage in competition. For years, Lance apparently lied about his use of drugs, under oath.
This last week, he appeared on Oprah Winfrey's television show and confessed to using the drugs in question, and lying to Congress and the public, and even to his family, all these years.
What are the issues? As I see it, the issues are: (1) use of performance-enhancing drugs to gain an unfair advantage in professional sports competition, (2) breaking the rules of the sports organizations and governmental laws about drug use, (3) perjuring himself in the congressional investigation, and (4) covering up and lying to the world, all these years.
What did he gain by all this? He rose to the top of the cycling sport world, won trophies and prize money, earned millions of dollars of corporate endorsements, and was hailed as a world sports hero.
What has he lost from this? His fame as a sports super hero is tarnished. He has lived all these years with his secret of cheating and lying to everyone. He is subjected to the humiliation and shame of being exposed as a drug user, cheater, and liar.
The world has been let down, and he will likely receive public scorn. He is losing millions of dollars of endorsements and may be required to pay back some of the ill-gained money.
He was removed from the board of his own charitable nonprofit organization. He may feel a little relief because the statute of limitations has run out for prosecution for his perjury.
When people rise to the level of a hero, don't they take on a greater responsibility? I think we should hold our heroes to a greater standard. For years I felt that Lance was a hero and believed his denials. I feel as if I've been let down personally, and that my trust was betrayed.
To me the biggest crime is that he lied to us for all those years. How do we deal with our feelings of betrayal and disappointment? We can choose not to hang onto the bad feelings, or to give Lance, or anyone, that power over us. We can choose to learn from this.
I think that it's all right to admire and respect heroes, but remember that they are only human.
Great people sometimes do bad things like stealing, lying and covering up, cheating on their spouses, and becoming corrupt.
We should also remember that every coin has two sides, and to look for the good side. We can respect and appreciate their positive qualities, but not expect them to be perfect. In this world, you can seek and find so much to respect, admire, and appreciate.
Look at those people you're close to, friends, acquaintances, people you work with. You don't need to look for sports stars or great leaders to find really good character. We can also dig deep and find qualities, traits, and accomplishments in ourselves that we can respect and appreciate.
Bob Denny is a licensed mental health therapist in Florida and teaches psychology and human growth and development at Florida Gateway College.
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