This past month I’ve been reading every article that made mention of Lance Armstrong and the USADA report. I was adamantly in Armstrong’s corner as these reports were coming out because I couldn’t believe that this new agency found evidence that no one else could find. Then stories of teammates testifying against Armstrong began to surface, and my defense got very quiet.
And now today the Cycling Union decided to strip Armstrong of his 7 Tour de France titles. Wow. That is a sad day. I watched Armstrong win many of those tours. i cheered him on. And now all that is gone, tarnished by deceit.
Armstrong is not the first hero in my life to have fallen. He is however the most public. I think there are a few responses to a fall like this that heroes can make and a few responses that fans can make
1) fade away into the sunset – thanked whatever you have left and get out of the public eye. Often the damage done is so severe that it seems impossible to cover. This option might be the safest for the former hero but it is the least satisfying for fans.
2) keep fighting – maintain innocence until your dying breath. Never ask for forgiveness. Never apologize. This is the hardest for everybody. The hero believes that they are defending their record, but the by product is that they are turning former supporters into haters.
3) admit failure, redeem the future – this is hard at first because the hero hill have too admit that they are human, they make mistakes and are admitting they have hurt a lot of people. But they can have a great third act, where they become advocates for change and health. They can’t go back and fix the past but they can make a better future. on this path, they can take their fans, who may be angry and hurt at first and turn them into advocates. Tis is probably the hardest path but it is also the most redeeming.
I don’t know what Armstrong is going to do now, but if he chose the third path, I would cheer him on.