For years, Lance Armstrong was a global icon of hope and perseverance. But the world's most famous bicyclist was living a lie.
In a pre-recorded interview with Oprah Winfrey, to be broadcast tomorrow in America, Armstrong reportedly admits what he had denied for so long - that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win his seven Tours de France.
To be sure, Armstrong and drugs go back a long way. At age 25 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to other organs. Drug therapy, and surgery, kept him alive; his steely determination kept him in competition. His Live Strong Foundation and his Tour record made him more than just an athlete; he became an inspiration to millions.
So his fall, as drug-testing advances and detective work exposed his long fraud, was worse than the fall of other athletes. Many supporters hopefully gave him the benefit of the doubt, but now that hope has turned to bitter disappointment for all who once respected him.
It is almost as sad that his anticipated confession suggests calculation more than contrition: he reportedly is attempting to soften the expected damage, both financial and to his reputation. It would be fitting if that hope, like the world's faith in him, finally turns to disappointment.