The Lance Armstrong scandal

Fascinating piece on Armstrong's personality from Friday's L'Equipe (translated):


“Chris Golis, an Australian psychiatrist, provided the opportunity to students he teaches, towards the end of last year, of working on certain passages of the report drawn up by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), without telling them that it was about Armstrong. The aim of the exercise was to measure, using the Scale of Psychopathy of Hare (a psychiatrist to whom patients are referred), which employs 20 criteria, how pathological the individual described was. “Average” psychopaths often tick the boxes for at least seven or eight of the criteria. Armstrong’s “score” was 13 out of 20! His behaviours exhibit all the traits that determine the personality of such subjects – quick transitions to action (action takes place instead of thought), obsessive self-assertion and doing so at all costs. All interaction with a psychopath boils down to what the psychopath can get out of them. Psychopaths are manipulators, they are drunk with power, they are people who set aside ethics. They are contemptuous of gentle emotions – the result of this is a predilection for inflicting harm and a tendency to triumphant behaviours when acting perversely.

This is Armstrong in a nutshell. But the therapist in me has to add, despite the above, that by moving on into a confessional phase, by going onto this American-style tell-all TV show [Oprah Winfrey’s show], with its symbolic psychology, I believe that he is on the road to redemption. He can start a new life”.


“The lessons his story teaches us must be learned – psychiatrists are ready and willing to do their bit in the fight against doping. Early detection of personality disorders could be part of clinical approaches which would be easy to put in place. Currently, 80% of resources are used to “nab” the 20% who are cheats. That means that only 20% of resources are left to test the remaining 80%. We need a change in focus. We need to concentrate on the issue of why people dope and not on the question of how they dope.”

Feel free to repost and circulate. Original article (C) L'Equipe / ASO.

(Translated by Conor McAuley. Email address: first name dot surname

Too (or even three) right, the Greeks and Chinese had healthy trade, guess Plato's was taken via a pipe. Ask the people who chopped if they found an ancient blower in there somewhere and get an evaluation -)

:-D on the artists and their ilk.

All 'bullies', children or adult, could actually benefit from work like Evelyn Field's 'Bully Blocking' instead of trying to measure it. It becomes so much like saying this black is blacker than that black. Bullying is bullying. Why psychiatrists jumped on to the bandwagon is another question. Business a bit slack perhaps? "Oh dear, let's pick on the most recent prat to talk to Oprah. Oh look, he used the word bully to describe himself, now where is that clever book with the scale in it". Too true on the self-flagellation. I might have to admit to drinking lots of green tea when I submit my revised ms this week. Will they cancel my contract?

Absolutely Cate. What you say has been said by several people when Hare has been cited (but not used as you describe) to 'prove' bullying at school. It creates the terrible dilemma for people outside the 'psych--' professions working with the phenomenon of being put down for not using a 'proper' method for measuring propensity and from within the 'psych--' circles as not scientific if that kind of method is not used. Thank providence OH and I have only had to use bullying research and not do it, because it is a minefield.

However, Armstrong has admitted to be a bully, etc, and whilst refusing to speak before Oprah interviewed him (for which there is a sizeable fee) he, as an increasing number of commentators are saying, actually said very little. So there appears to be lots of confession on hold or never to be revealed. He used the public forum à la mode and has generated a lot of journalism which, albeit it temporary, is keeping him in the public spotlight. Again, I think I agree with Cate that it might be PR damage limitation.

Sport, and somebody else has picked up this point, is seeing people in their twenties having heart attacks, in their thirties having strokes, even a cricketer keeled over last year. Sport is now rife with performance enhancing drugs. The pharmaceutically industries and medical personnel complicit in doping are moving far faster than means of testing and even faster than the sports' bodies responsible for testing. It is highly possible that those bodies are tolerating what is happening until a scandal breaks, then they react and conflate the story. It may be, for all we know, as much those governing bodies as those directly involved in doping who are to blame. Armstrong is likely to be the proverbial tip of the iceberg. It does not exonerate him for what he has done, but it may well give good reason for culpability being shared. Nobody can do or does these things alone. Therefore, the context Cate is describing is probably closer to the mark than a blunt accusation of a single, evidential wrongdoer.

@ celeste vogel-dillon: the example I gave was just a random example. When it comes down to it, I think my parents have had more to do with my sense of right and wrong than any nun. Of course the scale of and harm done by lies varies, but the basic moral wrong-doing is the same.

@ cate dal molin: "current tendency people seem to have to dump everything in the public forum". SO right! (It's maybe an indication that people have no-one to "vent" to in their "real" lives and do it on the internet/on TV instead.) But on the plus side we now know that the Pope or his PR people can't spell "bienvenue"!

As a very keen club cyclist with a member of my OH's family (Alexandre Geniez) in the pro peleton, I disagree. He's made a mockery of the drug tests and disgraced the sport. A friend has ridden with him and confirmed my view of the bloke - brilliant cyclist (clean or doped) but a real twaat!

I'm a huge fan and I agree, this won't change anything - just think back to the Festina affair, Marco Pantani, Jan Ullrich et al. ;-)

Unfortunately, as a club cyclist, I get to hear about various amateurs who take drugs, it starts very low down and works its way up through the system. I've ridden wth old pros who tell me how it was back in the 50s and 60s - the only thing that's changed are the drugs themselves, the practices have been going on for years, just think about poor old Tommy Simpson :-(

Brass tacks: Brass is what it is all about!

Lies. They are politics, personal or public, designed to get whoever out of a hole. Armstrong is in a crater!

Well, if you tell your partner that you're going out to get a baguette and instead you play €20 on scratch cards or have a crafty drink when you're not supposed to, are you lying or not?

There are no big lies and small lies, there are just lies (five years of religious education in Ireland may just be a factor in my views on this issue! ;-) ).

Personally, I don't see any point in winning by cheating.

I had a girlfriend once -- of a certain background which may or not had a bearing (I am not bigoted in any way, shape or form) -- who cheated at Trivial Pursuit or some other game. I just didn't see the point.

There's no glory in winning by cheating, and no real personal satisfaction in it either, I would think.

Thanks for your contribution Cate.

I will try to find the name of the person quoted in the article from my stack of newspapers.

It has to be said that the report was a 1,000-page report by someone who comes across as very fair-minded in the media and that the people interviewed for the report had no need to exaggerate the truth, given that the weight of evidence against the Yellow-Collar Criminal was huge.

Another intriguing issue -- for me, at least -- is whether he doped BEFORE getting cancer and did the doping CAUSE his cancer. There has been a long list of mostly Italian and Spanish cyclists and footballers who have died suspiciously early.

He has admitted to using testosterone and his cancer was testicular cancer -- is there a cause-and-effect relationship there? (I'm no doctor.) Did his use of other banned substances cause his cancer?

David, I don't think it is a case of being unforgiving. This is a discussion with opinions rather than verdicts. It appears to me that because he got away with cheating despite dope testing and other controls, you are more likely to say 'so what' and let it pass by from the way you express your point of view. However, he has the potential to make a lot of money out of his public confessions after making a fair bit out of his sport and suing people for accusing him of exactly what the world now knows. He is also cocking a snook at the Tour de France that is a cultural as well as sporting event here that has gained a status akin to the Olympics, World Cup and so on. Therefore he is in the glare of the public spotlight for a brief moment. He will have a lot of legal problems that will cost him a lot of his ill gotten gains, then he will make a lot more money. Is having an opinion on that wrong? Apart from that, by this time next month we will all have forgotten him and all of that will be consigned to history with none of us particularly caring either way. I think I will agree with Conor on what we can learn from the moral of the story, which is not a good one, but not from the people who are part of it. Some will suffer and others will not and those who gain from it are not, to use a reliable old expression, good sports.

The tragic thing is that even after all of his legal issues are sorted out, he'll probably still be a very rich man. Sport is capable of teaching us a lot, but unfortunately in this case the moral of the story is not a good one.

(I should have named the person quoted in the article translated in my original post -- apologies for that -- in case someone is interested.)

He wouldn't be the first. I doubt he is credible enough to get any further attention as Mark Patterson of Eurosport has said. The public just do not care any more. He is washed up and gone. If he does do what you are suggesting Nick, then unless he has names and specific events then nobody will listen. If he comes up with something of that nature then the sport is probably just going to regulate harder and make sure no more of his kind steal the limelight.

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones springs to mind here, leave the guy alone. Looks like nobody on this site is prepared to forgive and forget, like none of you have ever done anything wrong in your life.

He didn't harm me and if they were banned PED's then why weren't they picked up on any tests surely if you are going to ban a drug you would have a test to make sure it isn't used.

Leave the guy alone and move on.

That is for sure. I'm not a fan but I agree.

Don’t know if he has already done it, but how soon will it be before he makes out it wasn’t his fault, that he was forced to do it and tries to bring down the cycling world with him, saying that it comes from the top down and that everyone involved is aware.

The Tour de France is bigger than any one man: the show will go on! It's a big part of the French summer experience, as far as I'm concerned.

Read it too, says a lot too that goes beyond what he wrote.

It occurs to me now to ask, will any of the cheats including Armstrong strongly and with conviction stand up and apologise very publicly to the organisers of the TdF, the people they beat who did not use dope (let's forget the other who did, they're not better except they didn't win) and the audience/fans. Furthermore, will Armstrong make amends to the people he took to court who did make justifiable accusations he denied then? I suspect not, he'll pay out a lot of money now, later write an autobiography with a bit of confessional in it and make his nest egg on that, plus the paid interviews and palaver it will cause.

I have a great sentiment for him. As it is used in colloquial English: On yer bike!