“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.