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The cycle in confessions of a doper go round and round

January 21, 2013

Like many people, I’ve been watching the whole Lance “Oh, You Meant THOSE Drugs” Armstrong situation with some degree of interest. This is because I was a huge Lance Armstrong fan back when he was racing, so now I’m trying to figure out whether I should be offended or not.

I’ve always kind of figured that he cheated. Matter of fact, on some level wasn’t that part of the allure? That he could go over to France every year, drain all the blood out of his veins and replace it with rocket propellant, and still stay one step ahead of Inspector Clouseau?

To me, he’s still a seven-time Tour de France winner, because you can’t just go around erasing history and negating results. Or if you can, than I hereby declare the Minnesota Vikings the winners of the 1969 through 1977 Super Bowls.

And unlike everyone else in America, apparently, I buy into the “everybody’s doing it” defense. I understand that this doesn’t work when you’re 10 and stand accused of sneaking a cig. But when the last person to win a bicycle race clean had a handlebar mustache and a front wheel the size of hoophouse, I have trouble getting my dander up.

Not that Armstrong shouldn’t confess; I love confessions. There’s always the anticipation of which confession model people are going to employ. Do they take the “confess but don’t apologize” route popularized by Ollie North during Iran-Contra? Or do they pull a Jason Giambi and apologize without saying what specifically they’re sorry about?

We’ve all seen the grim-faced politician head to the podium, his even grimmer-faced wife by his side as he asks forgiveness for “drafting legislation” late at night with a male intern.

In that vein, I thought it would have been cool if Lance had showed up in front of Oprah with his bicycle at his side. You know, just for a little support. He could have reached out and touched the brake lever to get him through the emotional moments.

And that’s the other thing — Oprah? I thought you only went to see her when you had a book to ...

Oh. Never mind.

We talk about life being more complex in this day and age, and it is. Remember how we used to ruminate on the proper amount of time that had to pass between the death of a spouse and re-entering the dating scene?

Now we have to calculate how much time needs to pass between the confession of being a rat fink and the release of your hardcover tell-all.

It’s a tough call, and I feel for Lance on this one. Debut the book too soon and it looks as if your apology was merely a cheap effort to cash in. Too late, and you miss that wave of buzz that guarantees lucrative movie rights.

And Armstrong is going to need a whole lot of lucrative, considering how many people are lining up to sue him for fraud. I don’t know how that works — Nike goes to court and says, “Lance Armstrong made us millions of dollars in profits, and we want it back.”

The real curious potential litigant was the U.S. Postal Service, which sponsored L.A. back in the good old days. If the suit succeeds, the person who would profit most would be Floyd Landis, who: 1. Won the Tour de France in 2006. 2. Tested positive for drugs. 3. Blamed “whiskey.” 4. Was stripped of his title. 5. Ratted out Armstrong, and stands to make $93 million under the federal whistleblower law.

So the net effect of this whole sordid affair will be the transfer of millions of dollars from one cheater to another.

Is this a great country, or what?

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com.

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