The Hard Road From Hitting Rock Bottom

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  • Critics of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong are looking askance at his admission of using performance enhancing drugs after years of lying about it, suggesting that Armstrong has calculated the risk, has developed a strategic plan to mitigate legal action against him and try to revive a career in competitive sports, specifically triathlons.

    Whether anyone believes Armstrong is at all contrite about his years of lying about his drug use and blood doping while winning seven Tour de France titles, the more important question is whether he believes it.

    “This is something I recognized in my process early on,” said Jayson Blair, a former New York Times reporter who was found in 2003 to have committed widespread fabrication and plagiarism in dozen of stories. His behavior led to the downfall of two top newsroom executives and Blair penned “Burning Down My Master’s House,” his version of how The Times contributed to his downfall.

    Eventually, Blair, who was diagnosed as bipolar and who admittedly had substance abuse problems, went to rehab and into therapy and today is a life coach in Virginia who helps those who have hit rock bottom, largely because of their own actions, showing them how to get their lives back on track..
    Blair said that book agents, lawyers and other people he talked to as he left The Times gave him lots of advice about developing a strategy to help him manage the fallout.

    But what he discovered was “that in trying to be very strategic about the quote-unquote recovery, it backfired because my heart wasn’t really in it. When you go through a process of renunciation it has to be authentic.  If you try to follow the script, it doesn’t work,” Blair said.

    “It’s a long, hard slog to get back to where you were and I don’t think I could have done that right away.”

    Armstrong told Winfrey he has begun to reach out to people he denounced, and in some cases even sued, for telling the truth about his doping. Admittedly, the former cyclist said, he hasn’t found instant forgiveness.

    “When you do have a pattern of bad behavior, whether it was of the scale in my case or bigger or smaller, you have to work back to everything that led up to it. People you’ve been rude to or mean to, it’s their turn. The long knives come out.”

    In the first of a two-part interview airing Thursday and Friday nights on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, Armstrong said he could no longer deny the truth and had to take ownership of his misdeeds.

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