Will Lance Armstrong’s ‘Comeback Plan’ Work?

I wanted to give my thoughts on a report in today’s USA Today that suggests Lance Armstrong’s expected confession that he did take performance-enhancing drugs during his professional cycling career is part of a long-term plan to rehabilitate his damaged image. If he does admit doping [to date Lance Armstrong has always denied it] I believe this plan will not only fail, but will backfire badly. Why? Because of his vehement denials, the fact that any admission would come after he’d been stripped of his seven Tour De France titles, because he’s had numerous opportunities to come clean and because not only will he be seen to have cheated, but now also to have repeatedly lied about it.

I’ve been a supporter of Armstrong for many years. I don’t understand why a man who is acknowledged to be a super-human athlete, [his aerobic performance has long been documented to be off-the-charts even before his cycling career] and who, by the admission of one of his accusers, could beat [clean] his doping competitors, would take drugs. I also don’t understand why, in an environment where many of his peers have admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs, it has taken him so long to come clean.

I wrote earlier in the year about Armstrong’s communications strategy. I believed his approach – to force the USADA to show their evidence – was a wise strategy if he was innocent of the accusations.  If he was guilty however, and there was evidence that would condemn him, it was madness. If, as is reported, Armstrong finally admits he cheated then his strategy then was awful. It’s now also mis-judged. If he believes that an admission will lead to some kind of redemption, it won’t.

4 Replies to “Will Lance Armstrong’s ‘Comeback Plan’ Work?”

  1. Completely agree Lyndon. One has to wonder what his motives are. There’s the rumour that he’s planning on coming back to competitive sports, which if true, only makes him seem more crazy. And if this whole Oprah interview and confession is a way to try and repair his reputation,. I can’t think of a more suitable exercise in futility, and here’s why – I was a die-hard Lance Armstrong fan for many years. I read his books, followed him in the press, donated to his charity, bought his merchandise, and staunchly defended him against all of the naysayers, and there were many of them. He was an inspiration, a hero, a truly good person. He has betrayed the confidence of fans like myself, he has lived a complete lie, and he has talked so much BS it’s beyond belief. No matter what he does from here on in, he will never have my respect. Everything about him is premised on lie after lie after lie. If he can’t win back fans like me, then there’s no PR strategy in the world that will save him. What advise would you give him if he asked you for PR counsel?

  2. He was known for his athletic abilities, but was also referred to as a “brilliant” tactician. I’ve ALWAYS smelled a rat, starting in his pre-cancer racing. I’m sure he’s not done with his tactics. His psychopathic nature led him to win at any cost, and destroy anyone in his way. He’s not done. It may not be competitive sports, but he’s not finished. I wonder who will play him in the movie?

    1. I feel like Fox Mulder… I wanted to believe!

      I suspect that any movie will see the funds going to Livestrong and his credibility is shot. I can’t see any brands wanting to be associated with him [even as a competitor]. We’ll see though 🙂

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