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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fallen icons: How Lance Armstrong's cheating compares to Conway pastor's Ponzi scheme

It will be fascinating to see how the public responds to the revelations about Lance Armstrong, that he spent years cheating in his much-celebrated career, forced teammates to do the same and lied about it for years and did a lot to intimidate those who spoke honestly about what they knew.

I get why he felt the need to cheat, particularly in cycling, where doping seems to be fairly rampant.

I even get why he lied, because when you attain the iconic status Armstrong did, you rationally fear that telling the truth will bring down your career and hurt a lot of those you love.

But I don't get why he so aggressively tore down people who were simply telling the truth about what they knew, especially when they were being forced to by authorities.

Read some of the stories near the bottom of the column in this link. The lies and the cheating are bad but, frankly, understandable. As a former athlete, I understand the temptation he faced and succumbed to, and the lying was a natural result of what he did. Once he allowed the lie to take hold so incredibly, it became like a snowball rolling down hill, getting bigger and harder to stop without causing major harm.

The truly frightening and ugly thing is what he did to people who had the courage to tell the truth when he didn't or couldn't. 

My next column deals with the similarities between what happened to Armstrong and what happened to the pastor in Conway who swindled church members out of $2.5 million in a Ponzi scheme. One was a man of God, while the other was a man many treated like a god. They both did good and both ended up in a dark place. How should we process that?

*This post was updated with additional information and some slight editing.

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