UPDATED: 10 p.m. TUESDAY
Imagine Lance Armstrong, sitting on top of his bike, peering over the edge of his own fiduciary cliff.
Despite some estimates that his personal worth is in the $100 million range, even with all the sponsors who have dropped him as a client in recent months, the guy is morally bankrupt.
His Livestrong Foundation, which has inspired millions in their personal battles against cancer, teeters in credibility.
The air has been taken out of his tires – the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has concluded that, despite years of denial and nasty retorts, he did indeed illegally use banned substances through an elaborate covert system and would thus be sentenced to a lifetime ban, as well has having to give up his seven Tour de France victories.
So there Armstrong ponders his future, reportedly in a quandary as whether there’s any benefit to him starting a public Tour de Apology trip — admitting he has been dirty, throw himself on the mercy of the public court of opinion, shed a few tears of remorse, and pay any restitution that comes with it.
This is the point where the 41-year-old could go “Thelma and Louise” and just ride that bike over the edge and into the abyss and be done with it all.
He could seek salvation, allow for some healing time, and pedal forward.
Or, Lance Armstrong can continue to be Barry Bonds.
When the results of today’s Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2013 announcement is made, very few give Bonds, the seven-time National League MVP and career home-run hitting leader, even the slightest chance of being voted in now that he’s eligible for the first time.
Bonds’ continual denial of knowingly using banned steroids during his career, which was documented in the government’s case against BALCO, will forever define his legacy. The 48-year-old continues to fight the bad fight, even after being found guilty for grand jury obstruction of justice, awaiting another appeal.
Armstrong’s timing for a public apology may be too little too late for those who’ve been caught in his tailwind this far and understand how damage control works in the public sector and under media scrutiny.
Word late Tuesday was the Armstrong had agreed to be interviewed on Jan. 17 by Oprah Winfrey in a 90-minute “no-holds barred” discussion at his Austin, Tex., home about his past indiscretions.
It could serve no real purpose other than to allow him the self-satisfaction of being able to compete in future triathlons and other running events that adhere to the World Anti-Doping rules.
Is it worth it, just for that? Hardly.
But even then, Armstrong has more explaining to do. It’s possible that he could be a bigger dope than we’ve given him credit for.
A report airing tonight on the new “60 Minutes Sports” investigation show on Showtime will address an accusation that he made a “brazenly inappropriate gesture” by attempting to donate, through a representative, as much as a quarter of a million dollars to the U.S Anti-Doping Agency in 2004.
USADA CEO Travis Tygart will discuss the matter with CBS’ Scott Pelly for the first time, saying he was “stunned” and his organization “had no hesitation in rejecting that offer” that obviously looks to be a bribe from Armstrong to help him avoid trouble.
The report also points out that Armstrong once gave the International Cycling Union, which oversees the sport, a “gift” of $100,000, which Tygart also called “totally inappropriate.”
It also leads to questions as to why Armstrong was never punished by the U.S. Justice Department after a two-year investigation of him and the U.S. Postal Cycling Team implicated many of his teammates.
Armstrong, according to CBS, declined to comment on this report, some of which aired on the network news show Tuesday night.
Other reports that Armstrong has tried to reach out to Tygart, who he has referred to as an anti-doping zealot with a vendetta against him, aren’t true, Armstrong attorney Tim Herman told the Associated Press. David Howman, the director general of the World Doping Agency, also says Armstrong has not tried to reach him in any attempt to come clean and hopefully get his lifetime ban reduced.
There are many awful ramifications to an Armstrong acknowledgement of doping, ones that could cost him even more dearly than he’s already experienced.
More could be implicated and prosecuted. The U.S. Justice Department could re-open its case, or join another lawsuit started by former teammate Floyd Landis that alleges fraud in U.S. Postal Service money used to sponsor teams that supported Armstrong.
A British newspaper, The Sunday Times, has filed a libel suit against Armstrong, seeking to recover about a half-million dollars it had to pay out when a judge determined it wrongfully accused Armstrong of doping.
Under oath, Armstong has said he never used performance-enhancing drugs.
Under pressure to fix things, that could change.
Marion Jones once denied doing anything wrong when questioned in the BALCO investigation. The former Thousand Oaks star and Olympic sprinter ended up doing six months in federal prison for perjury.
Jones has since returned all five medals she won at the 2000 Summer Olympics, rid herself of the latest husband related to track and field drug use, wrote an autobiography about her “Life in the Fast Lane,” and has tried to rehabilitate her image by speaking to youth groups about stopping to think before they tell a lie.
Armstrong continues to live his own lies, weighing the lesser of many evils.
How will a confession set him free?
He could see how it sorta worked for Tigers Woods, admitting to an extra-marital affair and getting his golf game back. But he did nothing illegal.
It was rough road for Mark McGwire, but admitting to steroid use got him back into baseball, and on the Dodgers’ bench as their hitting coach this coming season. Heck, the Dodgers are even implementing some of McGwire’s suggestions on how to better rebuild the team’s clubhouse, weight room and batting cages.
Then there’s Jones, who couldn’t run away from it anymore.
If he can’t learn from any of them, isn’t there a lesson in how not to do things provided by Bonds?
Armstrong needs a team to rebuild him because he doesn’t seem to even trust hiss own judgment at this point. He could use a few strong fiduciaries on his side right now – people entrusted to steer him in the right direction, protect his assets, and explain his shortcomings.