Bennett-Smith: Will Lance Armstrong apologize on Oprah’s magical couch?

Jan. 14, 2013, 11:40 a.m.

If anyone could let me know which channel Oprah’s show is on, I’d be eternally grateful.

Seriously, I need to know, because the whole O Network thing is kind of confusing for me, and in three years of having cable television, I have yet to come anywhere near noticing it, let alone turning to it. Does it even come in basic cable? Ahh, the important questions in life.

Perhaps I’ve really been missing out. Well, probably not.

But I love Oprah, really I do. Because she apparently is the best person to turn to when you want the truth. I don’t know why we bother interrogating anybody these days–I’d say two minutes on Winfrey’s couch would turn even the most hardened men into songbirds.

Exhibit A: Tom Cruise.

Exhibit B: Tom Cruise.

Exhibit C: everybody else who has ever appeared on the show, as the list includes mass murderers confessing their sins, authors admitting to plagiarism and fiction, Michael Jackson at his personal theme park, drug addicts… I mean, I don’t know where to stop.

Perhaps I’ll just get to the point: Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong is the reason I need to know where to find Oprah these days, and why I must delete an old episode of Nashville in order to make room on my DVR.

Today, Oprah sits down with the man who beat testicular cancer, won seven Tour de France titles in a row and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research. And he’s going to admit he cheated the whole way.

At least that’s what the liberal media tells me.

And that’s not all they say. Most of the media tells me that I should despise Armstrong as the ringleader of perhaps the greatest cheating scandal sports has ever seen. I should see Armstrong as a manipulating, lying, cutthroat ass who intimidated and threatened his way to the top of the world of cycling and profited like few ever have before. They say I should never let Armstrong back into the spotlight because what he did was unforgiveable.

It sounds like a challenge.

You should know by now that I’ve never shied away from an argument in my life. I love Tim Tebow and Jordan Williamson, and I think Bonds and Clemens deserve to be in the Hall of Fame just as much as Babe Ruth does. Need you know more?

But I digress. What I mean to say is I also think Lance Armstrong deserves to keep all those yellow jerseys no matter what he injected into his veins for all those years.

I’m sorry to keep subjecting you to this abuse about steroids, and I promise this is my last post on the subject for at least the next month, but my argument is simple: Lance Armstrong made cycling relevant for the first time in this country, raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research and did exactly what he needed to do in order to win in his sport.

To me, that sounds like the American dream. I know that steroids are bad, that they can kill you and should not be taken by any young athlete. I also know that blood doping is dangerous and can kill you. I also know that people like Armstrong cannot help but be role models and that people will look up to them and kids will want to emulate them and that cheating is a terrible example to leave.

That’s why we hate Ray Lewis, right? Why we shun the man who very likely killed two men with a knife and at the very least is responsible for bringing his two friends to the fight and allowing them to do the job. Which is why we banned NFL wide receiver Donte Stallworth for life after got into his car with a BAC of above .120 and soon after struck and killed a man who ran across the road trying to catch a bus to work.

I know my argument is weak if all I do is toss up examples of other people who should be punished but somehow escaped. But I don’t think that it’s criminally weak to point out that Armstrong cheated during an age of cycling in which some people close to the issue think upwards of 50 percent of the field was doping in some manner or another.

If you wanted to award a title for the 2003 race, you’d have to give it to the fifth-place finisher, Haimar Zubeldia, who was the only rider in the top-eight not to be caught by a drug test.

In 2005 once again, seven of the first eight finishers have been caught doping.

The list goes on, and what I have to say about that might not matter to you all that much, but I find it unfair that Lance Armstrong would finish behind all those riders by not using EPO.

This, I suppose, naturally leads to the idea that I also should feel sorry for the 50 percent that didn’t cheat and ended up suffering for it. I do feel sorry for them, but I don’t blame Armstrong.

No, I blame a society that allowed the Tour to go on year after year when allegations of doping have been extremely widespread in the sport for decades and that championed honesty and integrity only until those athletes stop winning.

Lance Armstrong used his pedestal to do plenty of good for the world in my opinion, and he also used it to do harm. I guess he is human after all. That’s pretty much how I felt when the lies began to realllllyyyy unravel.

I hope he admits he cheated for the first time today, not for me or him, but so that all the people who want to hear him apologize for being a terrible person and trying to win at all costs, knowing that even beating cancer and being one of the better athletes in the world–which I challenge anyone to prove that he of the 32 beats per minute heart rate would not be if he didn’t dope–would not have brought him fame or fortune or the success that we applaud our citizens for dreaming of one day having.

I’m sorry too, because that last sentence was way too long. But you won’t convince me that Lance Armstrong is worse than Ray Lewis or Tiger Woods or any other athlete who has skeletons in the closet.

At least not unless you get me on Oprah’s couch…


Miles Bennett-Smith is on record saying that Jordan Williamson will win the Lou Groza award next year, and he will not apologize for it. Send your love mail to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @Smilesbsmith.

Miles Bennett-Smith is Chief Operating Officer at The Daily. An avid sports fan from Penryn, Calif., Miles graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor's degree in American Studies. He has previously served as the Editor in Chief and President at The Daily. He has also worked as a reporter for The Sacramento Bee. Email him at [email protected]

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