On August 23, 2005, L'Équipe, a major French daily sports newspaper, reported on its front page under the headline "le mensonge Armstrong" ("The Armstrong Lie") that 6 urine samples taken from the cyclist during the prologue and five stages of the 1999 Tour de France, frozen and stored since at "Laboratoire national de dépistage du dopage de Châtenay-Malabry" (LNDD), had tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO) in recent retesting conducted as part of a research project into EPO testing methods.
Armstrong immediately replied on his website, saying, "Unfortunately, the witch hunt continues and tomorrow's article is nothing short of tabloid journalism. (Wikepedia)Lance Armstrong's confession last week was particularly pathetic not because of the lie, but because of how he lied - by vehemently attacking and bullying those who had suspicion: the news media, France, or anyone who dared to speak out.
Here's an example (that I mentioned in a previous blog), when Armstrong used French-bashing for self-defense some 7 years ago:
Our defense when we look at this thing and we say -- and I guess I try to ask people to sit in my seat and say, "OK, you know, a guy in a French -- in a Parisian laboratory opens up your sample, you know, Jean-Francois so and so, and he tests it. Nobody's there to observe. No protocol was followed. And then you get a phone call from a newspaper that says we found you to be positive six times for EPO." CNN Larry King, 2005 Transcript. .Americans and the media in particular were in denial. They portrayed him not only as innocent but also as a victim of some sort of French anti-American conspiracy (particularly CNN, Foxnews)
As I wrote in 2005, this is because Armstrong and Landis's stories of courage and come back (cancer, hip problem) is exactly the sort of stories people want to believe in. It reaches mythical proportion and it is very hard indeed to put someone down from their pedestal once they become heroic figure. It is also hard for most people to think that "good" guys can do bad things. This is especially true in a country so thirsty for heroes that lead to blind faith.
This is something that we should all reflect on. Armstrong's lie was made possible by those who chose to believe in him despite the mounting evidence of his guilt. Innocent until proven guilt is ont thing, losing one's critical mind is another.