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Lance, A Cheater’s Cheater

Until now, I’ve resisted writing anything about Lance Armstrong. As the scandal unfolded, I thought — everyone knows this guy is a douchebag, right? Has anyone ever thought he was anything BUT a douchebag? Even if you believed his narrative, that he overcame cancer  to win seven Tour de France titles — you had to be struck by his sheer arrogant douchebaggery. Cheating on his wife, dumping Sheryl Crow because she was past her sell by date, selling dopey yellow bracelets. I don’t know, the guy didn’t inspire any great outrage in me, other than gee he’s an ass, probably because I don’t follow international cycling or the Austin, Texas celebrity circuit.

The part of the story I did follow, that disgusted me greatly, was Floyd Landis. I used to live in Lancaster County, Pa. and Landis was the local hero. His folks are traditional Mennonites, plain religious people. It’s a tight community and when Landis was disgraced for doping, he wrote a book and began flogging it around the county to protest his innocence. His parents and their church held legal fundraisers for him. I felt so sorry for them. It seemed obvious the guy was a charlatan, preying on their kind-heartedness. Then several years later, Landis sold them all out and admitted to the doping and fingered Armstrong. For which Landis was lauded as a whistleblower. I still think of him as a super creep.

Well apparently, Landis learned at the feet of a master manipulator — Lance Armstrong. Watching that Oprah interview did anyone have any doubt that the guy is a sociopath? I’ve met ice cube trays with more humanity. The passive voice, the non-apology apologies, the arrogant yeah-whatever-ishness when asked about his victims. I started making a venn diagram of Lance Armstrong utterances and Stupid Shit Cheaters Say — so much overlap! How is Lance Armstrong just like your run of the mill cheater?

1. He admits it, but only after the truth is already out. Just like a cheater who cops to what you have evidence of, Armstrong only now comes “clean” after he’s lost everything, his titles have been stripped, and an enormous report has cataloged his crimes. You have the sense that he’s not admitting to anything so much as he’s trying to polish the narrative and win a new game at impression management.

2. His “remorse” is anything but. The hallmark of the sociopath — the non-remorse remorse. The dead fish eyes, the flat affect, how he refers to his victims with the sort of abstraction reserved for algebraic equations — nothing about his performance is convincing. Including the obvious lack of regret, that he hasn’t DONE anything to show he’s sorry. As we say here at Chump Lady, sorry is as sorry does. Has Armstrong given the money back? Is he going to work with investigators to tell them exactly how he perpetuated his fraud? Apparently not.

3. He’s fine with character assassination. Armstrong SUED his detractors! He bullied and threatened people who refused to perpetuate the myth. The Washington Post reported yesterday:

Reminded that he had not only sued team masseuse Emma O’Reilly but also called her a “whore” after she disclosed he had gotten a cortisone prescription backdated to explain away his improper use of the performance enhancer, Armstrong said, “She is one of the people that got run over and got bullied,” neglecting to point out that he was the one driving the steamroller.

Like a cheater who vilifies you after the divorce and alienates you from your kids, who tells people — no you’re the monster, you’re the cheater, they’re the victim — Armstrong excelled at playing the indignant soul who’s been hard done.

4. He wants you to feel sorry for him. “They are my mistakes, and I’m sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that. The culture was what it was.” Well, if he cheated, it’s only because the culture drove him to it.

5. He chumped people because they wanted to believe. In the end, Armstrong was able to sucker so many people because he had a narrative they wanted to believe — he was a plucky cancer survivor who rose above the odds to win seven Tour de France titles. On the face of it, well, it seems pretty implausible. But hey, I wanted to believe my serial cheating husband was really sleeping in a car in Vermont in January and that’s why he wasn’t answering his phone. It’s a better narrative than… fuck, he’s a cheater.

Armstrong chumped a lot of people. I’m glad he’s gotten his comeuppance. When I think of Lance in years to come, I imagine a paunchy old man in yellow lycra doing ribbon cuttings for a new Sports Authority in Muncie, Indiana. Or him shoveling shit, cleaning the dairy stalls on the Landis family farm. Karma’s a bitch… and she’s out there waiting. Live strong, Lance.

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  • I’ve never thought much about him, nor do I really care what’s going on now with him beyond the fact that it provides an opportunity to show my 8 year old why cheaters in sports never really win.

    However, there is a reason Lance Armstrong is coming out with the truth now. He wants to be able to compete in triathlons. If he didn’t have that, he wouldn’t have done this.

    The entire thing is just ridiculous. But that’s what entitlement looks like. Morning Joe yesterday had an interesting discussion on this and one of the panelists, I cannot remember who she was, mentioned that Armstrong was just like any of those famous sociopaths — she referenced Bernie Madoff.

    You know, the thing is, I tend not to do the labeling thing, and as I think about it, I think I’m being naive about that. It is projection for me. Because I’m NOT a sociopath, because I do have a healthy sense of empathy and surely I can sympathize when people are suffering, I can’t imagine someone who doesn’t have the capacity to empathize. They say that many people who are in CEO positions are, in fact, sociopaths or have the capacity for it. And that probably makes sense. I think there are a fair share of sociopathic politicians as well. And surely all the actors in the world are narcissists. But then that begs the thought: maybe there is a time and a place and a need for people who are lacking in an empathy chip. They can make decisions and not look back. Harry Truman is a great example. He makes the call to drop the bomb(s) on Japan. Who can do that and sleep at night? But maybe that’s the kind of decisiveness that the world needed in that moment. Still… I wouldn’t want to be married to a guy like that (or a woman like that, if I was a man).

    I’m digressing. Lance is gross.

    • I always thought Lance Armstrong was a sociopath, after reading his autobiography.

      I also thought the cancer scare seemed a tad implausible.

      The sad thing is that Lance Armstrong, like so many other sociopaths will likely land on his feet.

      It seems our present society applauds and rewards narcissistic personality disorder that runs to the end of the spectrum into sociopathy.

      Society will forgive him because, well, he hasn’t killed anybody, right?

      Lance, will sadly, con the public with his sob story and fake apologies and he will continue to earn big bucks, somehow.

      This man belongs in jail.

      At the very least I hope the people he screwed over now file civil suits, given that he has admitted slandering and libeling them, unjustly.

  • The whole interview was astounding in his bizarre lack of emotion. The only time he got emotional was talking about telling his son to stop defending him. And still, it felt like it was about him. Kind of like STBX who gets welled up with tears when he recalls our younger child’s reaction to hearing dad was having an affair and was moving out. Apparently it’s my fault the kid was destroyed…I told the truth with as little drama as possible and STBX is furious because he still feels it was wrong for the kid to know the truth…he wanted them to think the marriage was just over—poof–and nothing made that happen.

    I remind him that the kids don’t know he’s a serial cheater so he should be kissing my ass that they don’tknow this.

  • He felt bad about it, he’s soooo sorry.

    Well it didn’t stop him from sleeping like a baby after cheating people out of their deserved titles.

  • CL, as always you nailed him down very well. These NPD types are not only in our marriages but they are bosses, co-workers and people sitting amongst us in the pews on Sundays. Thank you for pointing these people out. Being that we’ve all been ‘chumped’ we need to carefully examine those around us long with the celebrity athletes too. If we can recognize them sooner we can stop buying their bracelets and supply monetary kibble to them.

  • I am one of those chumps who was married to one of these creeps (as my chosen moniker might suggest to the observant).

    I can pretty much guarantee to you right now, what is known is only the tip of the iceburg.

    My former husband has been known to throw the “pity me” parties pretty openly–even while celebrating that he got everything he really wanted out of the divorce. And that’s a dichotomy to make your head spin.

    I remember one time when my husband presented the excuse that I had emotionally abandoned him. I had a newborn, just recovering from a very difficult pregnancy, working full time, and gearing up to lose an organ due to complications from pregnancy. On top of all that, I was trying to be a loving and supportive wife and encourage him to get mental health therapy. But apparently, I “emotionally abandoned” him, so he was entitled to start trolling the internet for girlfriends.
    Several years prior, I had skipped my own grandfather’s funeral to take care of him when the doctors wanted to admit him to the hospital for flu. I put up with his behavior, excuses and justifications for five years.

    Obviously, I am prone to abandoning people. Snort.

    The thing that strikes me in both my former husband and in Mr Armstrong is their self-centeredness. ‘You should worship at the alter of me’. ‘You are not giving me enough attention.’ ‘I am not the center of your universe–ergo, you are abandoning me’.

    I really felt like I was raising two children rather than one. After that thought was expressed (granted, not a fun conversation, but certainly not expressed with a desire to hurt or humiliate) he threatened to kill me. To be fair and accurate, he threatened to have his “inner werewolf” rip out my throat with his teeth.

    At the time it didn’t feel that much different from so many other temper tantrums, but later I realized it was a bone fide death threat. We were in the middle of nowhere, no people around, in a nature reserve. He could have killed me and dumped my body in the marsh. He would have been caught, but there’s certainly no one accusing him of being overly blessed with impulse control.

    I’ve seen that dead eye stare directed at me. I’ve seen it for hours at a stretch. If you think its creepy in a video, imaging sleeping next to it.

    • That’s chilling, Blue Eyes and Bruises. Mine had a chilling stare but at least he didn’t have a proclivity for violence. What a real life monster! I hope you are safe, have family and friends surrounding you and you are detoxing from his evil.

      My ex would stare blank faced at me as I cried and begged him not to go, to come back, to let me try again. (Not healthy of me, I know.) When asked by a marriage counselor what effect his repeated leaving might have on me, he stared at her with his tight lipped look and wouldn’t answer while I thought I would cry my guts out. (He’d walk out and be gone for hours no matter where we were-whether it was safe for a woman to be alone or not.) After discovering the depth of his 15 year betrayal, I had a dream that I heard noises downstairs while he continued to sleep. There were men in dark suits who showed me a hole in the floor hiding a bomb was set to destroy the whole house. I turned to see him with a creepy smile and chilling eyes. I think my unconscious knew how heartless he really is because I was still hoping we could work it out. I was even willing at that time to live in separate houses but have some sort of relationship. Poor deluded me. At least I am getting to the point where I feel compassion for myself.

      Anyway Blue Eyes, I’m hoping you are getting past the horror and holding your child tight. Best wishes, dear.

      • Thanks,

        We are doing much better. Since I did not understand how bad things were until after (my divorce attorney had to tell me I was allowed to say No to him; my medical doctor and therapist had to sit me down and explain what I was describing constituted years of sexual abuse), but because I did not understand how bad it was, I did not go to the police when it was happening—in other words, when I would still have evidence.

        My ex husband lifted passages from our divorce decree threatening to get me thrown in jail if I did not agree to additional placement time for him above and beyond what was in the divorce decree. Sadly, I did bend to that pressure. Then he wanted to start mediation for even more time. I don’t think he liked the results much.

        The mediator:
        * reinstituted the placement schedule in our decree, stripping him of time he got through threats and aggression
        * explained to him that the number of emails he was sending me each week constituted harrassment and that he needed to stop
        * flat out told him there were very good reasons for my hostility, and that he needed to accept we would be parallel parenting for at least a decade

        I live in a very pro-father’s rights state, so when the court tells dad to stop pushing for co-parenting, its pretty big news.

        Our six year old is doing much better. The night terrors have stopped; she is sleeping through the night again. I’m not looking forward to when my Ex’s relationship with his affair partner falls apart. He brought AP into our home to play with our daughter while I was at work. She’s been part of our daughter’s life for around 2.5 years now. (We are 7 months divorced.) Even our daughter’s therapist has told me she feels better about daughter being over there with the AP, than she would feel about my ex husband having our daughter by himself.

        Eventually he will target someone who is not quite as chumpy as me, and police reports will start rolling in. Meanwhile, I filed my first police report on Jan 1; the *second* time my Ex husband decided to just keep our daughter until some indefinite time in the future after taking her out of state.

  • I’ve never followed his career and am not into professional sports in general, so doping and lawsuits aside (bad enough), I immediately dismissed him as worthless when he cheated on his wife and kids, and that was YEARS before I dealt with infidelity.

    I’m not the least bit surprised at what a monster he is. If you cheat on your partner, there is something very lacking in your soul. That you also cheat in other areas of your life shouldn’t be a big shocker to anyone. What a douchebag.

    • Makes me wonder at all the people who insist that just because they cheated on their spouse doesn’t mean it should impact any other area of their life. It shows your character – if you would betray your husband, how do I know you won’t betray me.

  • OMG ! Lance Armstrong is my ex wife! My Ex wife is Lance Armstrong! Repeat until I go crazy.
    They’re just common traits of a cheater and you can layer it over family, sport ,or business.

    • I’ve been saying that over and over to people as the shi* has hit the fan in the last month or so ‘ala Armstrong. it usually is a quick way to sum it up to people … I just add “plus sex”

  • ChumpLady, your writings are so astute. I love how you cut through the crap with such common sense. My lucky day when I found this site

  • This guy is and has been so full of shit. The moment I saw those stupid Livestrong bracelets I thought, puulleeeease! He dumped Cheryl Crow who is now where near past her shelf-life date and is a far better human than Lance is. Then again, to call Lance a human is to insult all humanity. Anyway, my cousin is a survivor of Testicular Cancer back in the day when to get that kind of cancer what pretty much a 50/50 survival rate. He went on to get his BS in Nursing and his Masters as a Physicians Assistant. He is has been a PA at a major world renowned hospital in Boston. There, he really helps people and is a real hero.

    There is a special place in hell for people like Lance.

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