Lance Armstrong rehabilitation attempt continues with Esquire interview

Golf is the new cycling for Armstrong, cockroach wing artwork, and door open for return to Livestrong?

by Simon_MacMichael   July 13, 2014  

Lance Armstrong Livestrong speech You Tube still

Lance Armstrong’s attempt to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the American public have stepped up a gear with an extensive interview in the August 2014 issue of Esquire magazine revealing how he fills his days since his fall from grace and also giving a glimpse into his private world – such as the writer being given a tour of his art collection that includes a piece made entirely from cockroach wings.

Armstrong says it is his decision to return to cycling in 2009 that caused his world to come crashing down as he was banned from sport for life and stripped of results including his seven Tour de France titles – although he continues to insist he was racing clean after his comeback.

The cancer survivor continues to seek to give hope to others with the disease, and the door appears open for him to return to the charity he founded, the Livestrong Foundation – although whether he will accept the invitation is unclear.

Downsizing – but on a grand scale

He was speaking to John H Richardson for the 8,000-word Esquire magazine feature under the title, Lance Armstrong in Purgatory - the After-Life, the writer travelling to Austin, Texas where the disgraced cyclist has moved into a smaller home after selling his old, ranch-style property.

This is downsizing on a grand scale, however. The 42-year-old’s new abode has a “magnificent” wine cellar housing thousands of bottles. He proudly shows Richardson his art collection – promising to later show him another piece made entirely from cockroach wings.

In his teens, Armstrong competed as a triathlete, and following his second retirement from cycling in early 2011 began taking part in Ironman events. He was due to take part in one in Nice, France in June 2012 when the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced he was being charged with doping offences, causing him to withdraw from the event.

Now, he cannot take part in any competitive sport governed by bodies ultimately adhering to the World Anti-Doping Code – last year, for example, he was excluded from a local swimming race in Austin after a fellow entrant complained.

"Anything I try to do, any sport, even archery and volleyball, I can't do it," says Armstrong, who describes his long-time denial of doping and the bullying of his accusers as “indefensible” and “pure hubris.”

But, he adds, "nobody has stepped forward and said, 'I really won those races.' They didn't award those jerseys to somebody else. I won those races."

Regrets over comeback

Like many others, Armstrong believes that it was his decision to stage a comeback in 2009 that led to his doping being exposed and his life come crashing down.

He recalls a meal with his girlfriend at a café in Fort Worth, Texas, shortly before he returned to the sport.

"Every part of my being said, I gotta fucking stop this right now – I can't do this. And Anna, bless her heart, was saying, 'What are you talking about? What's the problem?' "

However, the support from sponsors, his charity and fans for his comeback proved too much to resist.

"I would do anything to be sitting back in that small café with Anna, and make a decision to just call it off," he explains.

Embroiled in a series of lawsuits, Armstrong says that discussion of that topic is off limits, although preparing for and fighting actions including the Floyd Landis whistleblower case that has been joined by the US Government is likely to take up a significant amount of his time.

Golf is the new cycling for Armstrong

Otherwise, his days are taken up by running for a few miles then playing golf, his evenings, given several references in Richardson’s piece, which describe Armstrong’s life as “his worst nightmare, a purposeless limbo,” to a fair amount of drinking.

But he also finds time to reach out to others suffering from cancer, whether sending video messages to give hope and encouragement, or travelling to California to be at a dying man’s bedside, and it’s clear that the writer believes that despite his disgrace, Armstrong remains a source of inspiration to many of those with the disease.

In the wake of USADA’s Reasoned Decision published in October 2012, Armstrong was dropped by a succession of sponsors – Trek, Nike and Oakley among them – but while that hurt him financially, what wounded him most was being pushed out of the charity he started, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, since renamed the Livestrong Foundation.

The news was broken by the charity’s chairman, Jeff Garvey, who called Armstrong, who was playing golf in Hawaii, one day in November 2012 and explained he needed him to resign because of media pressure and falling donations, which would slide by a third over the next year.

Armstrong rang his girlfriend, Anna Hansen, telling her, "They want me out," and when he returned to their hotel in a rage, he said: "This is ridiculous. I'm resigning."

Early the next morning, he wrote an angry email, copying in every member of staff at Livestrong.

The general thrust of the long email, written in what one of the people who received it said was "Armstrongese," was: "I spent fifteen years building this and seven or eight million dollars of my own money and never dreamed that it would be led by cowards."

He followed up with an email the next day in which he apologised, but the damage was done, and it appears to have marked a turning point, with Armstrong telling his children to stop defending him, and then going on to make his televised confession to Oprah Winfrey in January 2013.

Door open for Livestrong return?

Visiting Livestrong’s offices, Richardson is told by CEO Doug Ulman that the charity would embrace Armstrong again if he decided to work with it.

"If he gets up in the morning and decides that being a leader in the cancer community is what he wants to spend his life doing, then the cancer community and the Livestrong Foundation would welcome him back," says Ulman.

Richardson asks: "Are you really telling me that if he walked in that door and said, 'I want to be part of this organization again, please take me back,' you would say yes?"

"I think in some respects, he's waiting to be invited,” replies Ulman, initially off the record. “And people here are waiting for him to express to them his authentic passion to be back. Both are waiting for the other to, like, make a move."

He adds that at a recent brainstorming session about how to turn the charity round, a member of staff suggested that 2014 should be denoted the "Year of Redemption," with Armstrong coming in every day to work alongside other employees, manning the phones and stuffing envelopes.

"To pay a penance?"

"To say: 'I want to do this.' To say: 'I'll do anything.' "

Armstrong is shocked by the news when told about it, saying: "That would be the first I ever heard that, and that seems awkward.

"I mean, I've mentioned numerous times that ultimately I'd love to go back, but nobody's ever directly said that to me. So it seems awkward that it would go from Doug to you back to me. That's a pretty significant statement."

"Nobody's ever told me that. Yeah, I don't believe that."

Bloodied but unbeaten… for now

Armstrong is clearly itching for something new to do, though. "If I'm still playing golf five days a week at fifty, my head will explode," he says.

He heads to Scottsdale, Arizona to lead a "man camp" hosted by a local cycling coach named Jimmy Riccitello, the nine participants mostly ex-sportsmen who finished up working on Wall Street.

The programme seems to comprise riding at day and drinking at night, and there’s a lot of testosterone about.

"I came this close to beating Lance in the first race," Ken Rideout, an investment banker. "I attacked like a rabid dog. I had a gap on him."

On the third day’s ride, he thinks he’s beaten Armstrong, and says. "I'm the winner of the man camp! Lance, will you clean and hose my bike for me?"

It turns out Armstrong was 4 seconds quicker, despite cutting his hand when a rock hit him, and the bleeding still hasn’t stopped.

"I hurt Lance Armstrong! I broke him! I made him bleed!," exclaims Rideout.

Another rider says, "He's gonna fucking pass out," a third adding "Maybe we could cook up a big batch of Crybaby Soup."

Armstrong lifts his hand, showing the onlookers that the flow of blood has stopped.

"I think that I just finally ran out of blood," he says.

The metaphor is left unsaid, but it’s one that works on two levels… the blood that helped USADA bring him to justice, and the potential bleeding dry of his remaining financial resources should the whistleblower case and other actions go against him.

The story isn’t over yet.

25 user comments

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Cough and die

posted by anarchy [58 posts]
13th July 2014 - 10:23

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I haven't read the article. I just want to say, STOP GIVING THIS WASTE OF SPACE FREE PUBLICITY.

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posted by MikeOnABike [26 posts]
13th July 2014 - 11:45

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MikeOnABike wrote:
I haven't read the article. I just want to say, STOP GIVING THIS WASTE OF SPACE FREE PUBLICITY.

You should read the interview, it's very interesting.
I found the article quite by accident on my Flipboard app a couple of days ago, now saved into my favourites file. Great read.

But naturally of course, any mention of Lance on here seems to bring out the same frothing at the mouth comments that helmet threads seem to attract.

"It's a Lance article! I'm not going to read it but I'm still going to vent my fury and my opinion! Rant rant!"

posted by crazy-legs [509 posts]
13th July 2014 - 12:38

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Go Lance! Day Dreaming

posted by Doper [36 posts]
13th July 2014 - 13:10

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Doper wrote:
Go Lance! Day Dreaming

Yeah. Right. Whatever.

I've always believed that transgressors should have a shot at rehabilitation, so on the one hand I think why not give Armstrong the opportunity to put his shoulder back into the charity he founded. Just as long as he doesn't go anywhere near competitive sport ever again.

Then I watch The Armstrong Lie and the excellent Storyville documentary and I think let the motherfucker be bled dry by the lawsuits and be "relegated" back to life as an ordinary Joe.

So you see, I'm torn... Thinking

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posted by Him Up North [187 posts]
13th July 2014 - 13:19

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Still thinks he is a celebrity to be courted by Livestrong rather than an ex-employee who needs to start over.

Ego is still in charge. Always will be.

But the yanks love a comeback story so we will never hear the last of him until long after he is dead.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [378 posts]
13th July 2014 - 15:18

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can anyone explain why Lance is portrayed as the devil incarnate....and people like Contador, Barne Rijis , David Millar, Sean Yates etc etc are punished then accepted

Is it just because he made so much dough and bought everyone..or was so successful at it...and was a bully??

Its almost like he gets the blame for inventing doping...I was a big Lance fan back in the day, and now see him as thoroughly dislikeable..but I still don't fully understand why he is worse than anyone else.
You could argue that when he won all his titles all the main GC contenders were also on the gear...or am I being a bit niave??

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posted by Pinstriper [12 posts]
13th July 2014 - 17:24

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Pinstriper wrote:
can anyone explain why Lance is portrayed as the devil incarnate....and people like Contador, Barne Rijis , David Millar, Sean Yates etc etc are punished then accepted

Is it just because he made so much dough and bought everyone..or was so successful at it...and was a bully??

Its almost like he gets the blame for inventing doping...I was a big Lance fan back in the day, and now see him as thoroughly dislikeable..but I still don't fully understand why he is worse than anyone else.
You could argue that when he won all his titles all the main GC contenders were also on the gear...or am I being a bit niave??

Well said , glad to see there are a few sensible heads left in the world Applause Applause Applause

posted by chiv30 [860 posts]
13th July 2014 - 17:48

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Jesus, i wish this nobber would eff off

Armstrong is a bit like Jimmy Savile really

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posted by Leodis [196 posts]
13th July 2014 - 19:01

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Leodis wrote:
Jesus, i wish this nobber would eff off

Armstrong is a bit like Jimmy Savile really

Comparing someone who cheated at a few bike races to a rapist and paedophile is frankly one of the most offensively stupid comments I've ever read on here and that's up against some pretty stiff competition.

There's a very simple reason that road.cc keep publishing these stories (aside from the fact that, you know, they're a cycling news website and this is cycling news...). It's clickbait, pure and simple. They know that any mention of Lance will have keyboard warriors pounding away furiously, clicking through the comments and being shown adverts each and every time. I'm willing to bet that they could charge a premium for an advert on any page mentioning Lance Armstrong or helmets cos they know it'll get twice as many hits as anything else.

Here's a hint - don't want Armstrong stories? Want him to "eff off"?
Then don't comment, don't read the story and don't even click on it. So long as you keep clicking through to tell the world your profound opinion based on not reading the story in the first place, they'll keep publishing the information...

posted by crazy-legs [509 posts]
13th July 2014 - 20:39

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^^^^^ Well said that man.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [283 posts]
13th July 2014 - 20:53

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Leodis wrote:
Jesus, i wish this nobber would eff off

Armstrong is a bit like Jimmy Savile really


You utter moron...and the same goes for the 1's who pressed the like button to your comment.

posted by gareth2510 [136 posts]
13th July 2014 - 22:22

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Pinstriper wrote:
can anyone explain why Lance is portrayed as the devil incarnate....and people like Contador, Barne Rijis , David Millar, Sean Yates etc etc are punished then accepted

Is it just because he made so much dough and bought everyone..or was so successful at it...and was a bully??

Its almost like he gets the blame for inventing doping...I was a big Lance fan back in the day, and now see him as thoroughly dislikeable..but I still don't fully understand why he is worse than anyone else.
You could argue that when he won all his titles all the main GC contenders were also on the gear...or am I being a bit niave??

You're kidding, right? It's not so much the doping. It's the arrogance and the aggressive way that he attempted to destroy anyone who might have got in his way.

While we're on it, I've really gone off David Millar of late. I enjoyed his book and was a fan as a result, but the poor-me-I-was-forced-to-dope-against-my-will routine's wearing a little thin.

posted by Jonny_Trousers [82 posts]
13th July 2014 - 23:47

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Jonny_Trousers wrote:

While we're on it, I've really gone off David Millar of late. I enjoyed his book and was a fan as a result, but the poor-me-I-was-forced-to-dope-against-my-will routine's wearing a little thin.

You're right, a very good, readable book, but when he's constantly referred to by the press as an anti-doping crusader that really makes me laugh! Where is this amazing crusade he fights, and how many names has he outed?

posted by daddyELVIS [396 posts]
14th July 2014 - 7:35

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I am a Lance fan. I loved his 7 tour wins I loved his aggressiveness in racing I loved the story. I for one though always had doubts but back then you knew they were all at at it. I'm a lance fan for his cancer battle. Believe me his story is still an inspiration.

Now I'm interested in his redemption. I'd only ever make my mind up on him if we sat down for a few hours and chewed the fat. What is played out through the media is always a pantomime.

This interview is decent and shows a little in his state of mind now as did the Armstrong Lie.

Only he knows if what is now portrayed is for real.

Bygones are bygones I say let the man live his life. He'll never be out of the spotlight that is the nature of the beast created when he won that first TDF title. As said here why is the man velified when all around did the same and they are still in denial?

posted by gazzaputt [179 posts]
14th July 2014 - 8:09

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Pinstriper wrote:
can anyone explain why Lance is portrayed as the devil incarnate....and people like Contador, Barne Rijis , David Millar, Sean Yates etc etc are punished then accepted

Is it just because he made so much dough and bought everyone..or was so successful at it...and was a bully??

Probably because he hasn't broken down in tears and begged for forgiveness. I actually like the fact he's still got the balls (!) to stand up for what he did, it's much more in keeping with his character than insincere apologies just to win the public heart.

posted by JeevesBath [119 posts]
14th July 2014 - 8:13

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JeevesBath wrote:
Pinstriper wrote:
can anyone explain why Lance is portrayed as the devil incarnate....and people like Contador, Barne Rijis , David Millar, Sean Yates etc etc are punished then accepted

Is it just because he made so much dough and bought everyone..or was so successful at it...and was a bully??

Probably because he hasn't broken down in tears and begged for forgiveness. I actually like the fact he's still got the balls (!) to stand up for what he did, it's much more in keeping with his character than insincere apologies just to win the public heart.

To be honest, if I was him, I'd be pissed too! All these guys who spilled the beans to save their own asses, who have benefited from LA's policing of the omerta - the code they all followed. All these millionnaires, thanks to Lance. How much money have they given back?

posted by daddyELVIS [396 posts]
14th July 2014 - 8:53

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Jonny_Trousers wrote:

You're kidding, right? It's not so much the doping. It's the arrogance and the aggressive way that he attempted to destroy anyone who might have got in his way.

While we're on it, I've really gone off David Millar of late. I enjoyed his book and was a fan as a result, but the poor-me-I-was-forced-to-dope-against-my-will routine's wearing a little thin.

does arrogance make him more guilty is probably my point?

and agreed about Millar...playing a victim is very unattractive in such an obviously articulate man?

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posted by Pinstriper [12 posts]
14th July 2014 - 10:51

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Leodis wrote:
Jesus, i wish this nobber would eff off

Armstrong is a bit like Jimmy Savile really

maybe we should get one of the people who Savile defiled at 12 to answer you directly...

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posted by Pinstriper [12 posts]
14th July 2014 - 10:54

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To be honest, if I was him, I'd be pissed too! All these guys who spilled the beans to save their own asses, who have benefited from LA's policing of the omerta - the code they all followed. All these millionnaires, thanks to Lance. How much money have they given back?

well said.

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posted by Pinstriper [12 posts]
14th July 2014 - 10:55

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JeevesBath wrote:

Probably because he hasn't broken down in tears and begged for forgiveness. I actually like the fact he's still got the balls (!) to stand up for what he did, it's much more in keeping with his character than insincere apologies just to win the public heart.

yes...I think once they truly break him ..and it is sincere they will probably leave him alone, the saddest part for me is that someone as ruthless, diciplined, arrogant and with such self belief would always have been a great champion without the doping....maybe greed got the better of him

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posted by Pinstriper [12 posts]
14th July 2014 - 11:00

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daddyELVIS wrote:
JeevesBath wrote:
Pinstriper wrote:
can anyone explain why Lance is portrayed as the devil incarnate....and people like Contador, Barne Rijis , David Millar, Sean Yates etc etc are punished then accepted

Is it just because he made so much dough and bought everyone..or was so successful at it...and was a bully??

Probably because he hasn't broken down in tears and begged for forgiveness. I actually like the fact he's still got the balls (!) to stand up for what he did, it's much more in keeping with his character than insincere apologies just to win the public heart.

To be honest, if I was him, I'd be pissed too! All these guys who spilled the beans to save their own asses, who have benefited from LA's policing of the omerta - the code they all followed. All these millionnaires, thanks to Lance. How much money have they given back?

To be fair, most of those who testified had to be forced by the feds to do this before they would say anything, such was the power of omerta. USADA then took this up to pursue their case

However testifying is the right thing -the doping culture that was so ingrained could only be broken by people starting to come out against the big riders and DS's / managers who used their power to keep the culture alive

posted by 700c [556 posts]
14th July 2014 - 11:15

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Heroes and villains - all sport would be poorer without either.

In fifty years, the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong will be viewed as one of cycling's greatest stories. We know he's sport's biggest all time cheat, so instead of getting tied up in knots, why not sit back and enjoy a great, scandalous tale in the making.

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posted by dafyddp [148 posts]
14th July 2014 - 11:24

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700c wrote:

However testifying is the right thing -the doping culture that was so ingrained could only be broken by people starting to come out against the big riders and DS's / managers who used their power to keep the culture alive

what's your view on Knaven - DS at Sky then? Would he 'keep the doping culture alive'? Or, because he's at a British team and has signed a form stating he never doped, then all is good with him. Is the omerta really dead?

posted by daddyELVIS [396 posts]
14th July 2014 - 13:06

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At least nobody's used the word "fanboy" yet....oh damn!!

It's good to read some sensible comments at last about Lance (the comparison to Jimmy Saville being the exception and more telling on the commenters mental state than anything else). What most don't realize is that Lance's Tour wins are just a part of the story, especially here in the States. He's far more famous for his cancer survival and advocacy here and rightly so. If you take the time to read the article, I think the most interesting thing is that Travis Tygart is said to have despised Lance for his lack of faith; that makes a lot of sense it does seem like there was some kind of moral crusade going on with USADA.
The other thing that struck me was how Lance tells cancer sufferers to forget God and trust good science; you have no idea how much balls that takes in this country and particularly in Texas, where the roads are nice and quiet for cycling on a Sunday morning because the vast majority of the population are in their churches.
I hope his story continues and if the authorities can't figure out who to award those Tour wins to, then maybe they should have the balls to give them back to the guy who won them on a (doped) level playing field?

posted by pwake [291 posts]
14th July 2014 - 13:56

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