Bullying: Is The Armstrong Case Different? by Dr. Kevin Purcell, D.C., Sports Doctor

Oprah will be well armed with plenty of direct questions when her interview with Lance Armstrong airs. There are no shortages of people to aid her choice of topics. As well, there is a 1000 page report from the USADA (US Anti- Doping Agency) that lays out their case against him relative to doping.

Doping in sport is probably the result of a numerous temptations and pressures. It is a complex reality similar to white collar crime, Wall Street shenanigans or the filing of false tax returns to the IRS.

Is this case different from past cyclists, baseball and track and field athletes who have fallen from grace? I have no first-hand knowledge of what happened in this case but I have followed the discussions closely and my questions are no longer did Lance dope. He is said to have admitted as much. In the professional peleton of cycling, bending rules and forms of cheating are said to have been a way of life going back decades. It is only a recent trend away from we hope we are seeing the last few years.

What I want to know, and hope that Oprah asks, is there more to this specific story than another athlete who used performance enhancing drugs? Former teammates of Armstrong reportedly have shared information that goes beyond one rider making some poor decisions. There are reports Lance blew the whistle on other riders in the professional peleton, essentially turning them in to testing authorities. Why would he do this?

As well, that Lance threatened other riders, sued newspapers for reporting on his activities, and he won. In the end, I want to know if Lance’s biggest deceit was not the drug taking or breaking of rules. Was he guilty of bullying other athletes or holding sway over governing bodies?

Three days ago a member of the International Olympic Committee hinted that cycling might be dropped from the Olympics if Lance’s confession uncovers complicity by cycling’s governing body. I want to stress that I am not implying that I know what has gone on in this case, but I do hope some of the questions are asked and answered. I want to believe the more outrageous reporting is unfounded.

On the flip side, I have been a huge Armstrong fan since 2001 when my daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and underwent eleven months of chemotherapy and radiation for alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. We nearly lost her several times. Over the next four to five years we thought he cancer had returned; first in her bone and then her liver. Both would have meant her demise. I employed every emotional and supportive technique a father can do to save his 14 year old daughter’s life.

One of those things was holding up Lance as an example; not only his survival, but his fight to survive, his courage, his work with others, his unbelievable story of sporting success; and of course the Livestrong Foundation. I stayed up at night and read his books with her.

I may hate some of the things he is said to have done, but I will never be one of the Lance haters. There are a number of reasons I will closely watch the interview.

Dr Kevin Purcell, D.C., works with long course triathletes; from elite to those new to endurance sport. Coach KP has guided dozens of athletes to qualification to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, including over 15 IM age group championships. Dr. Purcell is certified in Active Release Technique (ART). Coach KP retired from competition in 2006.

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Author: Guest Voice

  • ordinarysparrow

    Interesting and thought provoking post…

    Even with the cheating and bullying there is also the man that created a foundation that supported others as he gave time and money to bring hope to others.

    I see the dance of the egoic here, and it appears to have gotten inflated in his myopic need to win… yet also see ‘that which is greater’ and how ‘It’ so often sets the stage for the dark and deceitful to be humbled… (like a divine trickster that demands more than deception, for he is more than his dominator and dishonesty )

    Armstrong has been given the opportunity to come down to the ground…

    The little Shaker song:

    Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
    ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
    And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

    ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

    When true simplicity is gain’d,

    To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,

    To turn, turn will be our delight,

    Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

    Truly hope this humbling is lived into by Lance so he will ‘come round right.’

    I may hate some of the things he is said to have done, but I will never be one of the Lance haters. There are a number of reasons I will closely watch the interview.

    That is a light and goodness i admire and respect… Thanks…

    Prayers and good thoughts for daughter and you as you live into these days…

  • ShannonLeee

    Bullying might be a stretch. Accusing competitors of cheating is sadly also part of the game. I was never one to lie to officials, but lots of people do. Some consider tricking officials a part of the game…in most sports. Heck, most fans expect coaches to manipulate officials. Getting tossed out of a game is considered a tactical move.

    LA survived cancer and led a life where he had the opportunity to choose right from wrong. His choices should not be celebrated, but the opportunity to live and make choices can still be an example to those suffering from cancer.

  • ordinarysparrow

    Shannon after reading a bit of the script i think it is very clear example of bullying… here is a quote from Lance from the interview…

    Lance Armstrong finally admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career on Thursday, describing himself as a “bully” and a “deeply flawed character” in an interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

  • ShannonLeee

    Everything is relative. Something tells me I won’t hear anything from LA that I haven’t heard a hundred times. Well, outside of manipulating international sporting organizations. That will be a new one.

  • KP

    ordinarysparrow, thank you for the kind wishes. My daughter was ten years off treatment on Thanksgiving day. Pretty cool and quite emotional. All is well today.

    I have not watched the interview yet here in SoCal and in the PST, but will, and may have some follow up thoughts.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    Thanks Dr.KP

    dear All: as you can see, Dr. Kevin Purcell, is one of TMV’s commenters– KP. And I too am thankful to hear your daughter is doing ace-well. That’s great to hear.

    on another topic: I guess I am more aware of ‘fake bullying’ in sports re watching the brio of the entertainment called pro wrestling, but hadnt understood it having any place in sportsmanship of a serious nature. But, I think Dr P makes a good case for a bullying style. One of the odd features about character disorder is vindictiveness and charm, all in the same person. Both, in the extreme. Charm the skin off a snake, and give you hell to pay –all dealt out by the same person.

    I’ve not seen the interview, not sure we get that channel. Is is a pay for channel that O is on?

  • ShannonLeee

    One of the odd features about character disorder is vindictiveness and charm, all in the same person. Both, in the extreme. Charm the skin off a snake, and give you hell to pay –all dealt out by the same person.

    When did you meet my boss? :)

    A lot of people with that kind of disorder are very successful in their careers. Every now and then, their tower of cards come crumbling down, like in LA’s case. Most of these people don’t have to live under the same microscope though. Even to LA’s own admission..had he not come back, he would have never been caught.

  • ordinarysparrow

    Dr. E…

    Oprah has an OWN channel on Facebook… there was live streaming there tonight… if you follow this link tonight’s part is divided into six segments… which may not be the full program? tomorrow night will be part two and it can be watched at that time as live streaming…

    http://www.oprah.com/own_tv/onc/lance-armstrong-one.html

  • zephyr

    LA survived cancer and led a life where he had the opportunity to choose right from wrong.

    Exactly. And he chose wrong. He was a role model and betrayed the trust of a LOT of his fans. This won’t be easily forgiven, nor should it be.

  • ordinarysparrow

    Lance did mess up big time…His lying seemed pathological in its scope and vengeance of those that attempted to expose him. In watching sensed a man that was emotionally numbed not from trying to hide, but rather a man that knows he popped his illusory deceptive bubble and chumped himself…. did not hear him blaming anyone but himself and his own character flaw… which i see as positive, often those with a fixed character disorder are not able to do that for they blame others…Hope there is redemption for Lance Armstrong…Could care less as to what that might look like externally, but i pray that his self thumping turns him into a soul worthy Self, worth being a genuine friend to those he maligned, and a man to help the world be a better place.

    Also think it is interesting that our culture holds athletics that lie, cheat, and scheme to win at much higher standards than we hold our politicians.

    ” We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,”

    Fact checking Lance Armstrong has teeth, as it should, yet fact checking the men that would be president is meet with the shrug of that is just the way of politics ….

    Cycling and politics are both dirty ‘blood sports’….that are known to be dirty to the bone and the ones that are ‘successful’ all to often so similar character flaws.

  • KP

    “Also think it is interesting that our culture holds athletics that lie, cheat, and scheme to win at much higher standards than we hold our politicians.”

    We could attempt to cover all bases at once with your thoughts. A good friend reminded me that it is “a fundamental ethical error to let the pursuit of winning get in front of the pursuit of honor.”

    If athletics has a specific value to our society it is likely in the virtuous pursuit of honor. In many areas of our lives society seems to be losing that value, so it is no wonder it has infected athletics as well.

    To my friends on the left, my friends on the right and all those in between, we should “be willing to have a little less money or power to maintain our ethics. That means being willing to be a little less successful.” Our chances of ending up in jail or disgraced is exponentially decreased.

    For me, the next layer of the onion to be peeled back is Livestrong. It has been a powerful tool and cover for Lance. It appears to be an enormous benefit in terms of aid and social justice. Is it real or an illusion?

    As I have been saying for some time, here and on other blogs, hold tight to your personal happiness. Focus on local change within your communities and families. Release the anger. Our greatest happiness comes from being part of a loving family to those that are near and dear to us. As my pal is fond of saying, “They know who we are a like us any way”.