Lance Armstrong let so many people down in his career. The 7-time Tour de France champion was stripped of all his titles six years ago and banned from the sport for life.
He was one of the most famous athletes in America at the time which is an unbelievable accomplishment for someone outside of the major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL). As a cancer survivor, he went on to found the Lance Armstrong Foundation which later became known as the Livestrong Foundation (Nike broke all ties with Livestrong on 2014). He had a team of employees around him at all times on the athletic side and a TON of employees on the Livestrong side. He had millions of fans worldwide. Then the curtains got pulled back and he let the entire world down by abusing performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.
A-Rod has done a masterful job at rehabilitating his career after abusing PEDs but Lance hasn’t been so lucky. This week, he went on Freakonomics Radio where he talked about what life’s been like in the six years since he was banned from cycling. One of the stories he told illustrates how he’s changed over those 6 years and is finally grasping just how betrayed his fans felt. It involves an entire bar screaming the f-word at him as he was trying to get into an Uber:
I’ve never had a really aggressive reaction to me, until last summer. I was doing The Move down in Denver for the Colorado Classic, and I walked out of my Airbnb, and there’s all these little cool brewpubs. And I always know when somebody is like, “Ah, here’s Lance.” You just kind of get that sense. And so I see across the way, these people notice me. I call an Uber because I got to get to the race and my Uber is on the other side of the street, in front of the bar. And it’s a patio scene.
And I walk out I’m getting in my Uber and there’s one guy goes, “Hey Lance,” and I fully expected him to go, “What’s up, dude?” and you know, “Right on man, love you,” you know? And I go “Hey what’s up?” He goes “F— you. F— you! F— you!” and he wouldn’t stop. And the next thing you know, the entire patio is screaming “F— you, f— you, f—.” I’ve never had that happen. I was like, “Oh.” I was shaking.
So I got in the car and it was a very short drive to the race. But I’m sitting there, and I’m not saying a word, but I’m saying to myself, “You’re Lance Armstrong. You have to do something. You can’t take that.” So I called the bar. I said, “Put the manager on the phone.” Manager gets on the phone. I explained to him everything that happened. And he said, “Oh man, I’m so sorry. Dude that’s really regrettable. Hope it doesn’t happen again.” I said, “Okay, I need you to do me a favor. Here’s my credit card number. I want you to walk out there and you buy everything they’re eating and drinking. And tell them that I understand.”
Me of 10 years ago, I would have jumped across the railing and start throwing punches. But this is 2017 in summer, sitting in the car saying “I have to act. I got to do something.” And that’s the best thing that I could come up with. And just to say to those people “Look, I get it.” And so that’s the only time it’s happened. It might happen tomorrow. It might happen a hundred times. I don’t know but that’s the way I live it now. (via Freakonomics)
Earlier on in the Frakonomoics interview, Lance really opens up about the doping scandal from start to finish. So if you’re fascinated by that then I highly suggest you check it out. You can listen to the full interview here. They’ve also got the transcript laid out on Freakonomics if you’d rather read than listen.