Better Einstein than Armstrong

February 21, 2013
Lance Armstrong Doping

Same Look Different Profession (Photo: NY Post, AP, ABC News)

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters” – Albert Einstein

Better Einstein than Armstrong

When I was younger, a mentor of mine use to say, “Better Einstein than Armstrong.” He meant to emphasize the benefit of Brains over Bronze. He had no idea, of course, just how lopsided the Einstein/Armstrong contest proved to be. Lance Armstrong still believes he is a world champion, the best of the best, the man who stands above all other competitors. And yet this is his mythology not ours. We all know him now for the liar, cheat, inauthentic person he has been for most of his life. The only thing he achieved was the most massive swindle in the history of bike racing, if not all sports. He belongs in a lineup alongside Bernie Madoff and Elliot Spitzer, not world champions and record holders.

I took the liberty of assembling the photos above of Armstrong, Spitzer, and Madoff. This is what dishonesty looks like, across professions.

Dishonest Role Model

Some give Armstrong a pass because his charity Livestrong donated so much money toward fighting cancer. Should we give Bernie Madoff a similar pass because of his charitable contributions? Should we even consider what these men did as charitable–since the money was ill-gotten to begin with?

Dishonest Competitor

Think about the athletes who spent years training and dreaming of winning the Tour de France and other bike races, only to lose to Armstrong and other dopers. Their window for winning has likely passed. Even future racers stand to lose. Future winners will be tainted–fairly or unfairly–by Armstrong’s legacy.

Dishonest Father

Lance pulled the tear card on Oprah. He said his greatest disappointment is having to admit his dishonesty to his son. I suspect this admission won’t come as a complete surprise to his family, however. Armstrong has been putting himself first, bullying his way through and over teammates and competitors, for far too long.

Lance Armstrong doping a Cautionary Tale

Lance Armstrong doping will be a cautionary tale to those who decide they want to win at any price. He didn’t make one bad choice. He made a series of them–some little, some big–that grew into a massive deception that took untold energy and calculations to maintain.

Are you making some unethical choices? If so, consider how these choices might snowball.

Don’t ride like Armstrong or ride others the way he did.


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