A famous athlete comes clean by admitting he was dirty.
Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has retreated to the last refuge of a scoundrel — a TV confessional with Oprah Winfrey that he hopes will provide him the absolution he so desperately seeks.
Having vehemently, sanctimoniously and sometimes litigiously denied for years that he ever used performance-enhancing drugs to boost his championship performances, Armstrong now admits that he has been doping for years.
Armstrong's long-awaited confession stands as another example of a cornered rat, seeing no other viable option, using truth, or at least some of it, as a tactic. Baseball's Pete Rose and Mark McGwire are just two examples of celebrity deniers finally admitting the obvious, Rose betting on baseball games in which he played and McGwire using steroids to pump up his home-run production.
So be skeptical of the scope of Armstrong's mea culpa. It will be as carefully measured and minimally revealing as he can make it and still hope to regain his lost standing.
Of course, the real secret to maintaining a solid reputation is not to do anything that would place it in jeopardy. Armstrong could have opted to pursue his sports career without the advantage of doping. But with illegal drugs all over cycling, it obviously was easy for him to justify. Besides, he coveted the fame and the money that grew with his incredible performances on the cycling circuit and figured he would never get caught.
That he would soar to such stratospheric heights, making his rule-breaking that much harder to keep a well-hidden secret, could not have been predicted. That he would eventually crash and burn, particularly after former associates turned on him and investigators closed in, could not have been avoided.
What's next? This is a country that forgives transgressors, and one day Armstrong will shed his blackened image. After receiving a small spot of Oprah's holy water, he's begun his latest race.