Lance Armstrong: Why I Cheated


“Good … [clears throat] Good morning. I’ll get right to the point.

“Yes, I cheated.

“Yes, I lied about it.

“I lied because you wouldn’t like me if you knew I was cheating, and you wouldn’t have let me keep winning. I love to win, and you loved it when I won. What a decade! You had a Hero in me, and I was high the whole time— even when I was barfing from the chemo.

“Now things are different. I’m sorry I cheated. I’m sorry I lied to all of you who gave me your trust. I may never get it back, and I’ll have to live with that.

“What tears me up, though, is how I crushed your dreams. As a Hero, I had the responsibility to hold to our ideals, and I just couldn’t do it without cheating. I’m so deeply sorry. My betrayal is egregious and profound, and I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to make up for the damage I caused.

“I’m a Winner. I’m also a Cheater and a Liar, and yet I still want to be your Hero.

“Remember when Bill Clinton said, ‘I’m sorry I lied. I love sex. It feels great to get blown at work by an eager, lovely, young woman, but I was afraid you’d think less of me as a person if you knew. I’m ready to deal with that now.’

“Clinton became my Hero at that moment— a Real Man. I’m going to write him a thank you note in the next couple days. Thanks Bill!

“I’d like to be a Real Man that way. To start, my lying stops here. From now on, I’m going to tell you everything I know to be true.

“True: I still love to win.

“I also know this to be true: While you loved me when I won, you loved me even more when I got crushed with cancer and rose to win again, and again. What a great story! We need stories like that, don’t we? I cheated to win races, but there are no rules in the fight against cancer. My desire to win races is what gave me the strength to beat cancer. The outpouring of love and admiration and money you gave inspired this man to rise above all odds to become your Hero.

“True: I know I broke your hearts. You held me up as your Glorious Pure Super-Human Hero, the stuff of legends, and now you know that’s not what I am. I take full responsibility for my choice to deceive you. I’m sorry.

“Sure. Fuck me! But if I was the reason you were striving for greatness, go find another reason right away. There are so many. We all have greatness in us. (I’ve seen it everywhere.) Even when I didn’t know I’d get there, it felt great to try. Don’t stop because of me.

“I’ll continue to devote myself to helping other people take on the fight against cancer. If I was the reason you got behind the cause, then set my terrible shortcomings aside and recommit yourself despite them.

“True: I made choices that hurt a lot of people, and some say I damaged the spirit of our ideals. And here’s what’s also true: I don’t regret those choices. I think it was totally worth it. You might not agree, but I will always cherish having been your Hero.

“I do know there is a cost to what I’ve done. I’m going to start paying for it with my honesty, some serious cash, those trophies, and my drive to win— again. I plan to rise once more to become a new kind of Hero to you. You’ll let me know if I do, I’m sure.

“And won’t it make one hell of a story?”

  • — Lance Armstrong,
    Winner, Cheater, Liar, Ex-Hero, Aspirationalist

Lance Armstrong never said this. Neither did Bill Clinton. After reading the news, I was inspired to write a moralistic essay about why and when we humans decide to cheat. One of the main reasons is that, when we see people with whom we identify cheating, we figure it’s okay for us to do it.

I was also going to write about when it might be okay to cheat, like cheating the bad guys. That’s a common feel-good story. Then I thought, what do I really want to hear from Lance right now? Hence, the above.

Images by Richard Masoner and Maia C.
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Leave a comment13 comments on "Lance Armstrong: Why I Cheated"

  1. Um, yeah, that’s exactly right. Fuck him. There are actually people in this world who don’t lie. Those are my heros. So no, you don’t have to lie. Yes, what a great story. And of course, I don’t fault anyone for doing whatever it is they must do to get through cancer. But to say that admitting the lie now means he is a man? Yeah, right. Don’t lie in the first place. THAT is being a man. Sorry. I really do not condone dishonesty. And I really think it’s shitty to try to paint it as something that’s supposedly ok, after the fact. I’m glad he sees things more clearly now. But cut the crap about it being heroic or manly to lie and then admit the lie. FUCK that. Sorry. I guess I feel pretty strongly about this.

    • Catherine, You do know this is parody, right? I started an essay trying to argue for when it’s okay to cheat. Then I went for a run, and this came out. I thought The Onion might do something like this.

      • Oooo. Eeeee. EEEK. Yikes. Sorry. Me Retarded. Yow. Sorry.

      • Also, I farted.

  2. Ok, I did not know it was parody. When I first started reading, I assumed it was, but then it went on and on and with such detail and it seemed very believable, like something he would say. I don’t know why. I guess it was wishful thinking that just once someone would step up and say, “Yep, that was me – I farted!” instead of blaming the dog, or the guy next to him.
    That would be too fucking refreshing. The next time I fart. I’m going to claim it, loud and proud.

    • Totally just farted.

      Yeah, don’t feel bad. I feel a little bad for deceiving you, but not that bad. I thought the Bill Clinton remark was a giveaway. Funny how we hear what we want to hear.

  3. Nice. And I used the cool pic above for my post on Lance. Can I? If not, let me know so I can remove it. Thanks. And this is a really cool story.

    • You got it Jun. Just link back and clarify that this is parady.

  4. Great essay! When I first found it, I couldn’t believe it and was about to put it in my project on Lance regarding the tragic hero. Fooled me!

    • Well, I had hoped the parody would be obvious, especially with the reference to Clinton. Thanks for taking it so well.

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