Lance Armstrong: It’s Not About the Bike – It’s About the Truth

If life was like a bicycle, Lance Armstrong’s suddenly has two flat tires.

On the heels of being slapped with a lifetime ban from cycling and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the U.S. Anti Doping Agency a few weeks ago, Armstrong resigned Wednesday as chairman of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. His resignation came as a result of the negative fallout surrounding the USADA releasing its 200 page report detailing their evidence of Armstrong’s use of performance enhancing drugs (PED) and his role in what USADA dubbed “the most sophisticated, professional and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

Armstrong has been dropped by several of his top sponsors including Anheuser-Busch, Trek, 24-Hour Fitness, Radio Shack, and most importantly, Nike. “Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him,” the company said in a statement. “Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner.”

I don’t know Lance Armstrong. I haven’t even read his book. But it seems clear that he’s broken trust with a lot of people who have admired him, both for his sporting accomplishments as well as his personal comeback from cancer and his efforts to fight the disease on a global basis. At this point in Armstrong’s life, he refuses to acknowledge that he’s broken trust, which is the first step in the process to restore his credibility with others. Once he’s able to acknowledge the situation, he needs to admit his wrongdoing, apologize to his legions of supporters, and then begin the process of making amends, whatever that may look like.

There is no denying the tremendous accomplishments of the LIVESTRONG Foundation and the wonderful support they provide to so many people in the cancer community, yet Lance Armstrong’s personal integrity seems to be completely incongruent with the noble mission he helped found.

Integrity means you tell the truth. You don’t lie. You don’t cheat. You have honorable values and live your life in accordance with those values. You walk the talk. You’re ethical. You’re a person of character.

That’s what it means to LIVESTRONG.

About Randy Conley

Randy is the Vice President of Client Services & Trust Practice Leader for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He works with clients around the globe helping them design & deliver training and consulting solutions that build trust in the workplace and oversees Blanchard's client delivery operations. He has been named a Top 100 Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America. Randy holds a Masters Degree in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego and enjoys spending time with his family, bike riding, and playing golf. You can follow Randy on Twitter @RandyConley where he shares thoughts on leadership and trust.
This entry was posted in Apology, Forgiveness, Honesty, Integrity, Repairing Trust, Sports, Trust. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Lance Armstrong: It’s Not About the Bike – It’s About the Truth

  1. Aditya says:

    I have read his book and also the case of doping and I don’t think that he must have done something like that. But I really think politics has played its move in this matter. May this never happen in any sportsman’s life.

    Why would any sportsman doing such an noble work do something like that ?
    I mean I was moved by what he has done for the society, But politics corrupt the world , who knows he must have been setup by someone who envy him.

    Anyway I really am grateful for the contribution towards the society made by Mr. Armstrong, There is always a light in front of any tunnel May you find yours.
    - Aditya Shinde

    • Randy Conley says:

      Hello Aditya,

      Yes, unfortunately politics can muddy the waters in situations like this. I think a lot of people hold out some sort of hope that Armstrong really didn’t do these things.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Best regards,

      Randy

  2. theprofessionalpayrollmanager says:

    I’m with you all the way on this one! It appears at face value, that everything he garnered from life was through fraudulent acticity and egotistical determination. His world will now crumble and the saddest part for him will be looking into the eyes of his children everyday.

    Louise
    Sent from my BlackBerry® from Optus

    • Randy Conley says:

      Hi Louise. Thanks for adding your comments.

      I think egotistical determination is a good way to describe it. I’ve always viewed Armstrong as having an otherworldly ability to be singularly focused, and perhaps that has blinded him to the consequences of the decisions he made along the way.

      Take care,

      Randy

  3. Frank Ryan says:

    Hi Randy, Armstrong isn’t the first to deny wrong doing against a mountain of proof, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire & Roger Clemens come to mind while others; Jason Giambi, A-Rod, Jose Canseco have come forward and admitted their mistakes (after being confronted). While all of their reputations have been tarnished, the guys have have admitted use seem to have been able to move on with their lives while the others will have to continue to answer questions seemingly forever. I’m just not sure why some resist telling the truth. Is it possible that once you have lived a lie for so long that in your mind it becomes the truth?

    • Randy Conley says:

      Hi Frank. I almost said that same thing in the article…I think some people live the lie for so long that for them it truly becomes their reality…they mentally don’t recognize that they did anything wrong. I agree with you that other famous athletes who have admitted their mistakes are at least able to move on with their lives without constantly having to defend the lie. Maybe Armstrong will get there at some point.?

      • Osiris says:

        Hi Randy,

        Great article. Many thanks.

        In Lance’s case, I believe it’s about fear. A subtle kind of fear. Mind you, Lance isn’t the kind of individual that is afraid of anything, except losing his reputation. The irony being that so much has been revealed and transpired over the years that hanging on to that reputation is and has been a lost cause for some time.

        The very best thing, the most challenging thing, that Lance can do at this time is to come clean. Totally clean. Admit wrongdoing, permit the backlash to completely manifest itself; decide to reset and start anew. I believe this is his only real hope. Else, continue to live the lie that continues to expand.

        All the best.

      • Randy Conley says:

        Great perspective! I agree with you completely. Thanks for adding your comments Osiris.

        Randy

  4. I am amazed at the number of people who don’t know Lance Armstrong and admit to the prevalence of sports politics being involved in the prosecution of his case but at the same time are willing to accept as proof the supposed evidence against him. If Armstrong is egotistical, and he likely is, his detractors are equally driven by their desire to bring him down. I honestly don’t know whether Armstrong is innocent or guilty in this matter. It does seem that he has been convicted by some in cycling, in the press, and among bloggers, but without due process. Either way, guilty or innocent but shamed and defrocked, this is one more case that will cause many to lose interest in professional sports which is seen as being–all about money.

    • Randy Conley says:

      Thanks for your comments Tom, you raise several valid points. I do find it interesting that in August Armstrong decided to no longer pursue any legal action against the USADA, thereby giving up his right to contest their findings. It just seems harder and harder to give Armstrong the benefit of doubt in the face of such overwhelming evidence.

      Take care,

      Randy

  5. Randy,

    In many ways, this is about choice. It is about what was most important. Once that choice was made, the decisions flowed. Winning at any cost was the choice, and unsportsman decisions were made. We live out what we set as our choice, and this seems to be what Lance did. Balancing winning at any cost with raising cancer awareness seems to be a redemptive posture taken early on.

    It is a story for us to learn from. Great thoughts, Randy. Thank you.

    Jon

    • Randy Conley says:

      You are absolutely right, Jon. Armstrong, just like we all do, made a choice based on his personal values and desires and then like a row of dominoes, all his future decisions fell in line.

      It is a learning moment for all of us that speaks to the power of our choices.

      Thanks for your insights.

      Randy

  6. James says:

    Interesting comments… but you are pre-supposing that he is guilty. The press sure makes it feel that way but lets remember that the Grand Jury refused to prosecute him because of ‘lack of evidence’ — which seems the near polar opposite of the ‘overwhelming evidence’ that the press keeps talking about.

    • Randy Conley says:

      Thanks for adding to the discussion James. You are correct that I’m writing from the viewpoint that I believe he did use PED’s. The Grand Jury closing its investigation without filing charges is certainly interesting and it’s difficult to understand why (and they aren’t saying), although the USADA’s investigation is concerned with whether or not he cheated by using PED’s, not whether he broke the law (which is what the Grand Jury would be considering).

      Regardless, it’s a shame to see how things are unraveling for Armstrong. Hopefully some good will come out of this. I guess only time will tell.

      Take care,

      Randy

  7. Hi Randy – I agree with the perspective, shared above, that without due process we’ll likely never know about Lance’s guilt or innocence. More interesting to me than this, however, includes the notion that for all we say about truthfulness and integrity, assuming he doped to win 1st place, the likely fact remains that had his personal best resulted in finishing in 35th place, few people would know or care that he rode a bike or that he survived cancer. In Western society we have not typically glorified or glamorized “also rans” to any great extent. Therefore, regardless of guilt or innocence, we have generally labeled Lance an egoist liar, while at the same time, had he not won, we would have labeled him a sorry loser. So, did Lance (if guilty) or the ravaging hoard who has only rewarded winners (you know, our enlightened, civilized society) commit the bigger sin?

    • Randy Conley says:

      Hi Bob. You pose a critically important question. There is no doubt that our society is out of whack when it comes to hero worship of the rich & famous, which I guess has always been the case throughout civilization. Ultimately it comes down to our own choices (as Jon Mertz pointed out) and the consequences that we have to live with. For Armstrong, his consequences are being realized. For those who put him on a pedestal to which he didn’t belong, I suppose they are experiencing their own consequences.

      Thanks for your insightful comments.

      Best regards,

      Randy

  8. Very happy you wrote on this topic Randy.

    I respect those who like to focus on due process, inferring not so much that Lance Armstrong is not getting justice but that he didn’t cheat. Maybe he shouldn’t be labeled “guilty” yet but people with far more knowledge with the sport and Armstrong believe he did cheat. The legal crowd prefers to play their card, which isn’t so much about the truth as it is legalities.

    Changing directions, the sick part is that Armstrong was happy, joyful being idolized even when he knew he was breaking the rules and not being the sportsman he was being labeled. Of course, he’s not the first nor will he be the last. He didn’t mind cheating the sport, the clean competitors and himself. He saw what other cheaters in other sports accomplished.

    He has done some great things with his name but that’s because people wanted to support him because of his name and accomplishments achieved at least partly by fraudulent means.

    I was a big fan of his but knowing others with similar thinking/behavioral flaws – narcissist – I know public persona, image is one thing and the real person, when no one is looking is another thing entirely.

    The real winners are those who competed clean and came up just short in pursuit of their dreams.

    • Randy Conley says:

      Excellent points Michael! You eloquently summed up the important variables that are in play in this situation. At the end of the day I’m not surprised, angry, or upset…just sad that we see so many people go down this road unnecessarily.

      Take care,

      Randy

  9. Where trust is particularly important, some professions ban even the “appearance of impropriety.” When it comes to maters of fundament, like trust, it is probably best to take a” weakest link” approach. In LA’s instance, despite his protestations otherwise, it might have behooved him to think about his family, his kids. “What if I violate their trust?”

    You’d have to say above all else, Lance Armstrong sucks as an example, a dad. I’m sure his kids feel that way at school.

    • Randy Conley says:

      Fahzure – You make an excellent point about the importance of avoiding the appearance of impropriety. If we all followed that principal we’d be a lot better off!

      Thanks for your comments,

      Randy

  10. Bob Konings says:

    Hi Randy,

    Nice, nice,nice. Great piece. Still I think it’s not only about Armstrong. There was not a Lance without Anheuser-Busch, Trek, 24-hour Fitness, radio shack, Nike, Uci, and Usada. And ofcourse all the others who were involved with Lance when he celebrated his victories. All these parties also refuses to acknowledge they were wrong. Instead of telling Lance is a bad guy, they could better tell thanks to Lance we made millions!! In my point of view that’ s what integrity is. In order to make a better world, it isn’t Lance who did do or didn’t do drugs. They are all in it togheter. That’s what it is about ‘ I think some people live……that they did anything wrong. Only together we can make a better world. And in that way, it is about choice. If we all take our own responsibilties then you’re ethical.

    Just a point of view from holland, and a fan of cycling.

    • Randy Conley says:

      Excellent points Bob! Armstrong’s sponsors certainly need to take some ownership for their level of complicity in continue to fund him with enormous amounts of money and use his brand to help sell their products. It certainly calls their integrity into question.

      Thanks for the input from Holland!

      Randy

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s