Say what you want about Lance Armstrong, but he's not a dope.
Armstrong took dope to win his Tour de France titles, and, on Thursday night, he was hoping we would end up being the dopes.
Certainly there was some take away from Armstrong's tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, but all of that take away occurred in the first few moments of the sit down when Armstrong answered yes to several successive questions.
With each "yes" Armstrong reversed positions that he had defended fiercely and repeatedly for over a decade.
He admitted to using about every kind of dope and said he had utilized all illegal therapy options both inside and outside of competition for the duration of his career.
That's when the interview should have ended.
This silver tongued cycler had done enough with that early interview verbiage. Lance the liar had fully replaced Lance the champion.
Unfortunately the interview continued and Armstrong began to do his best impression of a champion boxer who employed, appropriately enough, the rope-a-dope.
This column won't mention the name of that champion boxer. Why sully a man's good reputation by connecting him to the exploits of Armstrong.
At any rate, Armstrong took the hits Thursday and seemed self effacing, then he slid in some counter punches by inserting a few phrases that he hoped would distract from his illegal activities and restore at least some measure of his good name.
Sorry, Mr. Armstrong. We were fully awake and listening. Your days of fooling the public with whole cloth fabrications have ended.
The first sly notation was related to the plausibility of any athlete having enough prowess to win seven tours without performance enhancers.
Armstrong mumbled something about it not being possible in his "generation" of cycling, an obvious attempt to claim that, since all cyclers were doping, the field of cyclers were competing on level ground.
It was a ridiculous assertion.
If the evidence tells us anything, it would be that Armstrong mastered the art of drug use.
He got maximum bang for his buck.
Without the drugs, he doesn't win. More over, without his proficiency at doping, he fails to win.
And in a field of evenly matched cyclists, one would be hard pressed to believe Armstrong would win one tour, let alone seven.
Later in the interview, Armstrong tried to make listeners believe that he was protecting people or shielding people by not talking about the specifics of his drug program.
It was another lie. Armstrong didn't want to create more of a negative situation than what already existed. He knew that the telling of his elaborate schemes would further cement his fate as the most deceptive athlete of his generation, or, quite possibly, any generation.
Page 2 of 2 - This interview was a damage control effort by Armstrong.
Then there was the attempt to resurrect an athletic career.
Armstrong actually had the audacity to claim he didn't take PEDs in his last two tours.
His comeback was genuine and drug free. And he got third in that first return ride back in 2009.
See, Armstrong was a good cyclist and an elite level competitor without the drugs.
If you believe that, you should he is, in all likleyhood, lying again.
Ask yourself this.
Why would he stop taking the drugs? What would spurn him to change?
The answer is, quite obviously, nothing.
As the Thursday night interview careened onward, Armstrong told some truths, and, if history is any indicator, probably more lies than we would care to know about.
In the end, it was all a waste of time.
Armstrong was thought to the greatest endurance racer ever. He made believers out of us.
All the while, he lied, bullied, coerced and doped his way to fame and fortune and didn't feel the slightest tug on his conscience.
That's not speculation. He confirmed all of that on Thursday.
It's over Lance. You aren't what we thought you were, and so we are moving on.
Thanks for your work with Livestrong. We will always admire your fight in beating the deadly disease of cancer. And we hope you'll end up remembered for something else.
But those cycling accomplishments are meaningless now.
And they can't be recreated, saved or modified to suit a better narrative no matter how many interviews you do with Oprah, Dr. Phil, Anderson Cooper, or anyone else.
It's a sad notion. And one that's probably foreign to Mr. Armstrong.
Because it's the truth.