Lance Armstrong's "Regret" Was Not An "Apology"Editor's Choice
Main Category: Sports Medicine / Fitness
Also Included In: Alcohol / Addiction / Illegal Drugs
Article Date: 18 Jan 2013 - 14:00 PST
Lance Armstrong's "Regret" Was Not An "Apology"
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Lance Armstrong has expressed regret during his first interview with Oprah Winfrey, but it cannot be considered as an apology, says John Llewellyn, a communications and public relations expert from Wake Forest University.
When asked whether Armstrong's initial interview with Oprah might redeem him after years of saying he had never used performance enhancing drugs, Llewellyn said the answer is "No".
"Armstrong offered an 'explanation' and hinted at regret, but I heard nothing I'd consider an apology. A proper apology has three parts. It expresses regret, offers reparations and promises it won't happen again. Tonight was talk and allusions to actions. Real actions are yet to come and that will take more than chatting between two celebrities."
John Llewellyn is an Associate Professor of Communication. He teaches and researches on rhetoric as well as analyzes persuasive language from civil rights leaders, coaches, politicians etc. He is also known as an authority (expert) on public figure apology.
Llewellyn noticed that during Armstrong's meeting with Oprah, he made very little admission of how involved he was in "conniving in all of this. He spent most of his time deflecting his role in the activities Oprah questioned. It's better than silence, but nowhere close to what he'll have to say or do to redeem himself."
Armstrong would be better off if somebody who was universally respected could supervise his plans for making amends, Llewellyn added. It is interesting that among the top most trusted Americans is the very person he had an interview with - Oprah. Bill Clinton, Tom Brokaw, Warren Buffet, Tom Hanks and Colin Powell are also among the most trusted in the country.
Llewellyn said "He needs a godfather or godmother that people will trust until they are willing to grant some trust to Armstrong himself. In that respect, talking with Oprah may be one step in that direction."
Which drugs was Armstrong accused of taking?USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency), in its official report, Armstrong was accused of taking the following sports-enhancing drugs:
- Erythropoietin (EPO) - athletes use EPO to raise the number of red blood cells in their system. Red blood cells in the circulatory system carry oxygen; the more oxygen-carrying cells you carry, the better your sports performance.
EPO is very hard to detect, even after a urine test was developed at the turn of the millennium. Armstrong was accused of developing a number of means to avoid detection, including using tiny dosages, intravenous injections, and glycerol infusions.
EPO contributed to the deaths of 18 competitive cyclists in the 1990s. Illegal use of EPO can raise the risk of stroke, heart attack and pulmonary edema.
- Blood doping (blood transfusions) - used to raise the number of oxygen carrying red blood cells in the athlete's bloodstream. Blood is extracted from the athlete before the competition, and then re-infused shortly before the competition. Blood doping increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Higher red cell concentrations in the blood can improve an athlete's aerobic capacity, which enhances endurance and recovery.
Side effects - blood clotting, stroke, and increased stress on the heart
- Testosterone - Armstrong's team apparently referred to this as oil. Testosterone, an anabolic agent, can help increase muscle mass and boost strength. Small doses of testosterone can help muscle recovery, especially after very strenuous exercise. It can also improve endurance.
An oral administration of testosterone is often presented as Andriol, which consists of testosterone undeconoate, a steroid which is mixed with oil, and swallowed. Andriol enters the lymphatic system and avoids the liver, making it a very potent performance enhancing drug without causing liver damaging side effects. Witnesses say testosterone was mixed with olive oil for oral administration.
- Human Growth Hormone (hGH) - also known as gonadotropin, is used to enhance strength and increase lean muscle mass. hGH also speeds up recovery and helps in weight loss.
Side effects - loss of vision, severe headaches, crippling arthritis, diabetes, tumors, high blood pressure, heart failure, acromegaly (protruding hands, feet, skull, brow and jaw)
- Cortisone (corticosteroids) - corticosteroids are strong anti-inflammatory drugs, they also speed up recovery and can provide bursts of energy. They give the athlete a feeling of well-being and extra energy.
Side effects - may include joint pain, cardiomyopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, fluid retention, muscle weakness, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and high cholesterol.
- Saline and plasma infusions - the Union Cycliste International (UCI) tested cyclists and would not allow them to take part in a competition if their percentage of mature red blood cells (hematocrit) was over 50%.
In order not to go over the 50% hematocrit limit, as well as to avoid detection of EPO or blood doping use, riders used saline, plasma or glycerol infusions to conceal the use of banned substances or methods.
"Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit. His admission that he doped throughout his career is a small step in the right direction. But if he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities."
Is Armstrong making amends?Although Armstrong claims to be reaching out and making amends, there is not much substance behind his actions, either in their quantity or quality. Llewellyn says it would be interesting to hear from the people he has harmed regarding those overtures.
So far, Llewellyn observes, all we have is Armstrong's word that he is doing something to address the harm done to those who worked with him.
"As Americans, we link performance and character in ways for which there is no evidence. We think being physically gifted can make a person morally upright. It's a myth we cherish and Lance Armstrong drives a stake through it."
How do those who defended Armstrong feel today?ESPN Sportswriter, Rick Reilly - who for over a decade defended Armstrong loyally because he was absolutely sure the man was innocent, said yesterday that he now feels like a chump. He admits that it is partially his fault; he allowed himself to admire the brilliant athlete and how he had overcome serious obstacles during this life.
After defending Armstrong for 14 years, Reilly sarcastically said that it might take him another 14 years before he might admire him for opening up this week.
Commentator and journalist, Phil Liggett - a regular speaker at the Livestrong charity events and a faithful defender of Armstrong through the years. The USADA's life ban on Armstrong was described as "political conspiracy" by Liggett in August last year. This week he says he felt duped and deeply saddened after realizing that the man had cheated his way through, and let many people down after apparently taking them into his confidence.
The Washington Post feature writer and columnist Sally Jenkins - co-authored books with Armstrong. At the end of last year she said she could not be angry with Armstrong, despite his doping. In the Charlie Rose Show this week she says she has forgiven Armstrong. She claims that doping is the only option for competitive cyclists, because it is so prolific in that sport.
Livestrong Foundation - a charity founded by Armstrong in 1997. The charity released a written communiqué this week after his initial interview with Oprah:
"We at the Livestrong Foundation are disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us. Even in the wake of our disappointment, we also express our gratitude to Lance as a survivor for the drive, devotion and spirit he brought to serving cancer patients and the entire cancer community. Lance is no longer on the Foundation's board, but he is our founder and we will always be grateful to him for creating and helping to build a Foundation that has served millions struggling with cancer."
Armstrong's first interview with OprahAfter denying the use of performance-enhancing drugs during his seven Tour de France wins, Lance Armstrong, 41, admitted during an interview with chat show host Oprah Winfrey that he had lied and did take illegal drugs to improve his performance.
"I view this situation as one big lie I repeated a lot of times. I made those decisions, they were my mistake and I'm here to say sorry."
The biggest doping program in sporting history? - Armstrong said that others had done worse and in a much bigger scale. He mentioned the East German Olympic teams when it was a communist country. He described what he did as "smart, conservative and risk averse."
Armstrong told Oprah that:
- From 1999 to 2005 he did take performance-enhancing drugs in every Tour de France win
- Part of the process needed to win the Tour de France was doping (meaning that the practice was widespread and that anybody who wanted to win had to take illegal drugs)
- At the time, he viewed the practice of doping as a "level playing field". He was not the only one and he did not feel he was cheating
- He was not afraid of getting caught
- It is all his fault, and he accepts the blame
- He turned on people he disliked - a bully
- After beating cancer, he became more obsessed with winning at all costs
- He will now cooperate fully with officials' enquiries about doping
Written by Christian Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today
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24 May. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/255149.php>
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