The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 14, 2013

Armstrong's admission makes no difference

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Two simple words provided a hit for singer Brenda Lee in 1960 and have been the stock in trade of recalcitrant boyfriends and husbands for centuries.

I’m sorry.

Those words were on Lance Armstrong’s tongue Monday as he sat down for an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

During said interview, Armstrong was set to admit all those people who accused him of using performance enhancing drugs while winning the Tour de France seven times were right.

Armstrong is hoping his mea culpa, airing Thursday night in prime time on Oprah’s OWN network, will rehabilitate his image, give his cancer-fighting charity Livestrong a boost and someday enable him to return to competing in triathlon or running events.

Good luck with that. Just ask Mark McGwire.

Unlike many of his suspected fellow dopers — like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens, to name a few — the ex-St. Louis Cardinals’ slugger has admitted he used performance enhancing drugs during his career.

The value of said admission, however, is questionable. At least he has a job in baseball, as hitting coach of the Dodgers, but was recently rejected for the seventh time by baseball Hall of Fame voters, his name appearing on only 16.9 percent of ballots.

In contrast, Clemens and Bonds, who stubbornly maintain they never have knowingly used PEDs, were listed on 37.6 and 36.2 percent of ballots, respectively.

Ask Pete Rose about the value of a public mea culpa. The big league hit king was banned from baseball for life in 1989 after being accused of betting on games while he was manager of the Reds, including wagering on his own team.

In his 2004 autobiography, Rose admitted betting on baseball and other sports while playing and managing, including betting on his own team.

Nine years later Rose still is banned, which means he is shut out of the Hall of Fame, and is currently starring in a critically panned TV reality show, “Pete Rose: Hits & Mrs.”

Other than boosting ratings for Oprah’s struggling TV network, it is unclear what Armstrong will accomplish with his public admission of guilt.

Like Rose, Armstrong faces a lifetime ban from competition, which cannot be trimmed to any less than eight years, so even if he is reinstated it will be some time before he’s allowed to compete in triathlons or running events again.

As for Livestrong, its donations actually rose after he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in November by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

No matter what Armstrong says, it won’t erase the fact he is a cheat and a liar.

“I have never taken performance-enhancing drugs,” he said in 2005 after a French newspaper reported he failed drug tests.

Of course, if Armstrong was a politician, lying would not be nearly such a liability.

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Did too, Mr. former president, husband of the outgoing Secretary of State and now globetrotting statesman and possible future first gentleman.

We wanted to believe Lance Armstrong was clean. We wanted to believe he overcame cancer and rose to the top of the cycling world on grit, hard work and good genes alone.

But he broke our hearts. And for that, he deserves no forgiveness.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at