Poll: Has your perception of Lance Armstrong changed?
That's the best way to describe the way I feel after watching Part 1 of Oprah Winfrey's interview with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong broadcast Thursday night.
Why is that?
Within the first five minutes, Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancers. That wasn't breaking news; we all knew that was coming.
In fact, it really doesn't bother me that he did it. I don't condone it, but I don't blame him. Maybe everyone on the Tour wasn't cheating, but anyone who was going to have a chance to win was cheating.
Armstrong said something very interesting about this: "I kept hearing I was a cheat, I was a cheat, a cheater," he told Oprah. "So I looked up the definition of 'cheat.' And the definition of 'cheat' is 'to gain an advantage on a rival or foe that they didn't have.' I didn't view it that way; I viewed it as a level playing field."
And I agree with this.
It's similar to the steroid era in Major League Baseball. I don't begrudge the baseball players who used steroids. There was big money to be made; there were jobs to fight for; MLB wasn't testing; and a lot of guys were using.
Players were almost forced to use just to keep up.
So the fact that Armstrong cheated in a sport saturated with cheaters doesn't bother me.
What makes him so despicable is how aggressively he went after everyone who called him a cheater.
He won lawsuits and he ruined careers. He steamrolled and bullied people.
And the victims were people who were simply telling the truth.
Armstrong tried to wreck them all.
Oprah addressed this, asking Armstrong: "You're suing people and you know they're telling the truth. What is that?"
Armstrong's response: "It's a major flaw. And it's a guy who expected to get whatever he wanted and control every outcome. And it's inexcusable. And when I say there are people who will hear this and never forgive me, I understand that. I do. And I have started that process. I think all of this is a process for me. One of the steps in this process is to speak to those people directly, and say, 'I'm sorry. I was wrong, you were right.'"
This is why I'm unfulfilled. Lance Armstrong has negatively affected the lives of a lot of innocent people for years, and that's something two-and-a-half hours with Oprah can't fix.
A lot of people think "I'm sorry" is a permission slip for forgiveness.
Armstrong's interview with Oprah this week may seem like two-and-a-half hours worth of "I'm sorry" and "I was wrong."
But it's not.
What he's really saying is: "I lost." He's finally conceding defeat.
There's no remorse in that, only acceptance.
And that's not enough.