For those that paid the price, an Armstrong apology will never be enough

  • By Neal Rogers
  • Published Jan. 17, 2013
  • Updated Oct. 30, 2014 at 1:35 PM EDT
Armstrong attached the character of accusers like Betsy Andreu and destroyed the bike brand of the only American champion of the Tour de France, Greg LeMond. Photo: Javier Soriano | AFP

What does Armstrong deserve — jail, or forgiveness?

The list of those Armstrong disparaged, and destroyed, is much longer than these examples, and includes names such as three-time Tour champion Greg LeMond, whose bike brand Armstrong torpedoed, and Emma O’Reilly, the former U.S. Postal soigneur who Armstrong accused of having been fired from the team due to “inappropriate relations” with staff members.

Ultimately, it will forever be impossible to quantify the damage caused by Armstrong’s lying, and the sphere of his influence at the height of his reign.

Both Anderson and DeCanio feel that Armstrong should serve time behind bars.

“I’d like to see jail time,” Anderson said. “The rich and powerful should not get away with it, and he got away with it because he’s rich and powerful. He’s like an inside trader; he got away with it due to power, influence and money. He deserves jail. He doesn’t deserve a penny he has, because it was all ill gotten. The rest of us do our jobs as honestly as we can to eek out a living, and he’s gotten away with what he’s worth now fraudulently, and that shouldn’t be allowed in a democratic, civilized nation like the U.S. If he’s left with any money at all, that’s fundamentally wrong. That’s prize money that was won under the rules of sport, which he broke. That’s money he took from sponsors while he said he was doing it clean.”

Like Anderson, DeCanio also believes Armstrong’s actions go beyond simply taking banned substances — he was, as “The Secret Race” author Dan Coyle has said, a kingpin. (“He was Tony Soprano,” Coyle told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday. “When you crossed him, he cut you dead. You were gone.”)

“When you look at something like insider trading, if you’re guilty of it, even if you are Martha Stewart, you go to jail,” DeCanio said. “How is that different from Lance, or anyone, doping and winning $20,000 in a race, or taking contract money? How is that not a felony or a criminal act? I think Lance is a criminal. Sport is a business. When you have people go to their jobs, if they are able to cheat and steal, that is a crime. I see this the same as stealing. Some people look at Armstrong as a great champion, but I see him as a criminal.”

To that end, Armstrong may just be looking to buy his way out of jail. CBS News reported on Tuesday night that government officials had rejected an Armstrong offer to repay $5 million in restitution and cooperate with investigators as a witness.

Asked if she were open to the possibility of forgiving Armstrong, Betsy Andreu took a long pause before answering.

“I’m certainly not open to being friends again. But I am open to… just letting it go and having… a peace within,” she said. “I’m open to not holding on to ugly feelings inside. It’s a process. If I weren’t open to it, I wouldn’t be mulling it over. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t pay the price for what he’s done.”

Asked what that price should be, she said, simply, “I don’t know.”

“Forgiveness is such a nouveau American thing. It’s really, really hard. It’s a process. It’s personal,” she said. “Whether or not Lance has called us or not, it’s up to me to forgive — it’s not dependent on him. The burden lies on me. As a Christian I am supposed to forgive, but it is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do in your life when you’ve been so deeply hurt. It’s a process. It’s not free. And it doesn’t mean forgetting, either.”

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Neal Rogers

Neal Rogers served as Editor in Chief of Velo magazine and from 2011-2015. He is also a Presenter at Global Cycling Network. An interest in all things rock 'n' roll led him into music journalism while attending UC Santa Cruz, on the central coast of California. After several post-grad years spent waiting tables, surfing, and mountain biking, he moved to San Francisco, working as a bike messenger, and at a software startup. He moved to Boulder, Colorado, in 2001, taking an editorial internship at VeloNews. He still hasn't left.

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