Life goes on for Lance Armstrong
By Rick Reilly | ESPN.com
AUSTIN, Texas — What I wanted was to find him slumped in his uneasy chair, naked nails on the wall, haircut in his hands, not even a poodle by his side.
I wanted someone who was sorry — sorry for what he’d done, sorry for what was next, sorry to be stuck in his new, sorry life.
But that’s not what I found.
Lance Armstrong is happy. In fact, he looks better at 42 than I’ve ever seen him, less gaunt in the face, thicker in the chest, bluer in the eyes. I found a man sitting in his den, surrounded by his seven Tour de France chalices, his 3-year-old, Olivia, on his lap, kissing him and laughing.
Really pissed me off.
I came to see ruins, not joy. I came to see a man ruined for lying to me for 14 years — and letting me pass those lies on to you. Ruined for lying to everybody. And not just lying to the world, but lying angrily, lying recklessly and leaving good people wrecked in his lies.
It wasn’t enough he’d been stripped of his seven wins, not enough that, so far, he’d lost half his estimated $120 million fortune to lawsuits, had to sell homes, his jet, lost every single endorsement (another $150 million), his earning capacity, and his association with the very foundation he started and built, Livestrong– with two more lawsuits to go.
Yet here he was telling me he was “at peace” with it. I didn’t want him at peace. I wanted him in pieces.
After Lance Armstrong confessed to Oprah about doping, he lost an estimated $150 million in future endorsements.
“There’s a lightness to my life now,” he says. “I have no obligations. I have no schedule other than raising my kids, what time my tee time is, how far I’m gonna ride my bike that day. Life has become very simple very quickly. … I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere. Nobody’s waiting on the other end.”
And this is a good thing?
“I’m at the bottom, but I like establishing a base. When I was diagnosed, they told me I had testicular cancer. Then it spread to the abdomen. Then the lungs. Then the brain. I was devastated. But at that point, it was as bad as it could get. And I was like, ‘OK, now, I know everything. Now I have to get better from here.’ I’m in that place now. Not cancer, but now I know everything. I’m at the base.”
This is why I came, to ask him, straight up.
Me: “Why did you lie to me, repeatedly, all those years?”
Him: “I couldn’t go, ‘Well, Rick, since you’ve asked me for the 10th time, I’m going to tell you the truth this time.’ You can’t. You’re stuck. You’re deep in it, and there’s no getting out. The waves keep coming at you — the sport, the team, the media, the sponsors, the foundation, the family — and you can’t stop. … My issue was being so adamant. I’m the one who elevated it to the degree it got to. It was on me. It was my fault.”
I stared at him.
Me: “Why should I believe anything you say now?”
Him: “You shouldn’t. My credibility is shot. I’ve lost the thing that matters the most to people — trust. It feels terrible, but I know that, hopefully, with time, trust is earned back.”
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