Editorial: Armstrong' s moment of truth . . . perhaps
Disgraced cycling legend Lance Armstrong has admitted what had become abundantly clear to the entire world: he is a drugs cheat.
In an interview with talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey taped yesterday and due to be screened on Friday (NZ time), the seven-times Tour de France "champion" admitted using performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.
That initially came from "someone familiar with the situation" and was later confirmed by Winfrey.
If you think the information was disclosed through disloyalty or indiscretion, think again; the leak would have almost certainly come from Armstrong's team of advisers as a way of taking some of the sting out of the on-air confession (if there's one thing the world now knows, it's that Armstrong is nothing if not calculating).
The only questions of any importance now remaining are just how full and frank his confessions are, and how genuinely remorseful he is. Was his decision to come clean motivated by a desire to control the damage to his reputation, or by an authentic commitment to clear his conscience and protect the innocent victims of his deceit, his cancer-charity Livestrong chief among them?
Was this a public relations exercise first and foremost, or one of history's most celebrated athletes humbling himself in an act of simple, sincere human honesty?
It would be Armstrong's first step towards redemption if it was the latter, but that seems unlikely. The fraud he perpetrated on the world for over a decade was so carefully orchestrated, his denials of doping so forceful, it's difficult to imagine him offering a confession with no caveats or mitigating pleas attached.
Armstrong lied, cheated and bullied his way to the top of world cycling, and profited in the tens of millions of dollars along the way. He traded on his courage and personal integrity, building an empire on a foundation of cowardice and deceit. Now that the facade he constructed has come crumbling down around him, the world waits to see what the real Lance Armstrong actually looks like.
If he is a man scrambling to save himself from the full consequences of his lies, his fall from grace will surely be permanent. If he faces up to his mistakes and accepts responsibility unreservedly, there is a way back from the wilderness for him.
We will see which path he chose when it is broadcast to the world.
ONE MORE THING: A huge congratulations to the Manawatu women sevens rugby team, who won the national title in Queenstown at the weekend.
It was an amazing team effort, and we're all incredibly proud of you. Well done.