Lance Armstrong, and the seduction of power

Lance Armstrong battled testicular cancer. After that battle he managed to win the Tour de France 7 times. It is one of the most competitive, most reputable and physically most demanding bicyle race.

CYCLING-USA-FRANCE-ARMSTRONG-DOPING-FILESLance Armstrong became the hero for many.  Following his successes, he did the good part that many wish, more of the rich and famous would do. He helped to build a foundation that raises the awareness about and fights against cancer. Through this, he underlined his status as a hero, and someone that can be a role model for many.

Children and teenagers, but even adults look for role models. Be they from the music industry or from the field of sports. Looking for role models that show the signs of greatness, success, but also sharing, humility and humbleness.  And Lance Armstrong appeared to be one of the good ones in a world of role models that are not always the best of the best.

Sometimes during his career, suspicion of doping emerged, and he always denied them, the first time in an interview with Larry King in 2005:

“Listen, I’ve said it for seven years. I’ve said it for longer than seven years. I have never doped. I can say it again. But I’ve said it for seven years. It doesn’t help. But the fact of the matter is I haven’t. And if you consider my situation: A guy who comes back from arguably, you know, a death sentence, why would I then enter into a sport and dope myself up and risk my life again? That’s crazy. I would never do that. No. No way.”

In fact, he accused and sued those that accused him of doping. and viciously attaced them: “For many cycling fans and observers of Mr. Armstrong, their biggest criticism of the fallen champion hasn’t been his doping, but his persistent attacks of those who spoke the truth about doping or chose not to participate in doping. In the interview, Mr. Armstrong repeatedly denied he ever pressured riders on his team to use drugs or gave them ultimatums to do so. He did say it would be fair to describe him as a “bully” who helped perpetuate the atmosphere of doping on the team.”  (WSJ)

Last week, he made an attempt to come clear in his two hour interview with Ophrah Winfrey and admitted to the usage of doping.

And the costs for Lance Armstrong are high, professionally and personally.

  • He was stripped of the titles
  • He lost his sponsors
  • His own foundation distances itself from him
  • His 13 year old son Luke defended him from accusations. And most likely, Lance was his son’s hero and the psychological damage to the son might be tremendous

It will be hard for him to gain back the trust of those that trusted him, and he apparently knows this:

He said that he “.. will spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and trying to apologize to people…for the rest of my life.”

There is something interesting about this case nevertheless.

You see, most of us have done things that we are ashamed of and that we would like to get undone. And it doesn’t matter if Lance Armstrong now told the truth or if he still hid something. It doesn’t even matter, if he tries to capitalise on his admission to guilt by may be making a Holiwood Movie or writing a book (why – that could be the next step, right?).

And it is easy to now point fingers at a fallen hero.

But then, is there anyone who is around in the whole world that is totally innocent of ever doing something bad?

Don’t we all have a Dark Side as Kelly Clarkson sings in her song of the same title?

Such as:

  • Where have you cut corners on a task, hoping no-one will notice?
  • When have you told a little white lie to avoid an unpleasant situation or conversation?
  • When you have stretched the truth to suit your interest? Where have you failed to keep a promise, say what you mean or mean what you say?
  • Where have you compromised a value you held dear, because doing so allowed you to avoid something unpleasant or feed your ego in some way?

In NLP, we have something called Presuppositions or Convenient Assumptions. These are the guiding principles for those that learn and study NLP. One of these Presuppositions sas that “There is a positive intention behind every behaviour.”

This states that behind every action that is done – good or bad – there is a purpose that we need to meet to get fulfillment. The action, at that point of time, was useful for the individual, not necessarily for others involved.

May be it was the feeling of power, of invincibility that drove Lance Armstrong’s behaviour.   And in NLP, we say that if we preserve the positive intention and eliminate the negative behaviour, we can achieve real change within the person.

Without wanting to go too deep into this discussion, this Presupposition is also about forgiveness. Forgiving us for what we have done when we met with the “dark side” :), or forgiving others, when we recognise that there is something that they did “badly”.

And isn’t this a missing point in the overall discussion with Lance Armstrong? I wonder, when the discussion about forgiving comes up, and moving on – without, of course, taking in the learning, about what needs to be learned from that situation, so as to not repeat the same thing again.


Andreas is the founder of Asia Mind Dynamics and a certified trainer of internationally recognised certification programmes:

  • Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) with the American Board of Neuro Linguistic Programming (ABNLP),
  • NLP Coach Training with the Coaching Division of ABNLP,
  • The Words That Change Minds -Language and Behaviour Profile of which he also is one of 17 Global Master Trainers
  • Creating Your Future Coaching™ Techniques at the Masters Level with the International Timeline Therapy Association
  • Hypnosis with the American Board of Hypnotherapy (ABH)
  • Master Trainer with the International Association of Counsellors and Therapists (IACT).

We also train companies to achieve higher performance especially through our signature programmes on Leadership, Sales and Advanced Communications.

To find out more about us or our programme and what makes us so very different as trainer and coaches, send an email to andreas.dorn AT or contact us at +6012 287 5048.

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