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Mis-Communicator of the Week: Lance Armstrong

27th January 2015


Fallen heroes, once great legends with tarnished reputations, have, throughout history, fought to make themselves relevant or loved again.

This week we remember Winston Churchill - arguably the greatest Briton ever - 50 years since his death. Even he, who is now rightly held as an iconic example of British grit and determination, had his low moments. After a stellar early career when he entered the Cabinet at 35, and held half a dozen major ministerial jobs before he was 60, was pillared and held in derision for many years before being Britain's saviour in the Second World War.

Sir Winston certainly enjoyed a great quantity of alcohol to get him through his days which brings us on to Lance Armstrong - who also used chemical assistance to aid performance.

Armstrong has this week broken his two-years of silence since he confessed to doping to win some, if not all, of his Tour de France titles. In theory a good move to gain acceptance again or, at least, begin to set the record straight.

He chose an internationally respected media outlet in the BBC and spoke candidly about many aspects of cycling, doping and sport in general. He was on home turf; filming the interview at the bike shop he owns in Austin, Texas. Then he forgot a basic rule in handling media interviews - he forgot to satisfy and steer.

While I applaud Armstrong's honesty (at last!) if I were advising him I'd be holding my head in frustration at the huge opportunity he missed to get his message across and begin to rebuild his reputation.

When asked if he would cheat again he replied that he would and gave the BBC the headline they were after. To make things worse he came across as pretty smug when he said this.

What he should have done is make the argument - with passion - that it was a different world in 1995 when he started doping and to be competitive meant you had no choice but to dope. Then go on to talk of his regrets that he did not do anything to try and change the culture while he had a leadership position in the professional peloton before finishing with his happiness that cycling is now cleaner than ever.

This would have shown a human side to Armstrong which has been missing so far in his journey back to public life and would not have allowed the BBC to run the headline "Armstrong - I'd cheat again".

Churchill called his time away from power and influence the "wilderness years". Happily Churchill emerged the other side stronger and wiser, Armstrong still looks to be stuck in the past with his performance this week which is why he is my Mis-Communicator of the Week. 

Communicator of the Week is written by Ed Staite.



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