The Lesson We can all Learn from Lance Armstrong Now. ~ Ben Ralston

Via Ben Ralston
on Jan 18, 2013
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Timothy A. Clary /AFP/Getty Images
Timothy A. Clary /AFP/Getty Images

Click here for videos of Lance Armstrong & Oprah.

When I was about 10 years old I was playing with a friend,

Paul, who lived down the street—and I caught him cheating in a game we played. I remember being absolutely bewildered and… furious. It made no sense to my young mind.

I went home and told my parents about it and their pride in me didn’t lessen the pain of being cheated and lied to and abused.

Truth is more important than winning. It’s also more important than reputation or friendship or career or dreams or even love. Because it’s what all of the above are built on.

Take away truth and all you have left is shadows.

Armstrong doesn’t yet get that though. He says he’s sorry, as if those two words alone have some kind of redemptive power. They don’t. They’re just words. And as much as I’d like to believe that words alone have power, they don’t. Without Truth behind them they’re just words.

I very much doubt that his newfound humility is over the wrongs that he’s done. I think he’s sorry that he got caught, and sorry that everything he lied and cheated and abused so hard for is in jeopardy.

So let him be sorry, ban him for life, take away the millions he (more or less) stole, and let’s move on, leaving him to face his shadows.

And he will face those shadows—he’ll have no choice, because the truth always catches up. It’s really all there is, and we can escape it for a while but it’s like trying to swim against the river:

The river (truth) always Wins.


Please share.

And leave a comment – do you agree? Or do you think (as many appear to do) that we should “forgive” Armstrong (whatever that means)?


About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston has been practising personal development—necessity being the Mother of invention—since he was about six years old. He’s been teaching and sharing what he’s learnt along the way for a couple of decades. His main thing is Heart of Tribe retreats—whose very purpose is to help you fall back in love with life, no less. Leading these retreats alongside his woman Kara-Leah Grant—also an elephant journal writer (that’s how they met!)—they combine a deep well of lineage-based yoga teaching experience, with expertise in healing trauma and various other methods of personal development. Ben also works with clients one-on-one via Skype, writes, makes videos from time to time, and is passionate about parenting. He lives in an intentional, tribal community in the hills of Croatia, where you might find him gardening barefoot and talking to the rocks. Connect with Ben on Facebook or YouTube or check out his website for more info.


73 Responses to “The Lesson We can all Learn from Lance Armstrong Now. ~ Ben Ralston”

  1. Ben_Ralston says:

    Comment from EJ Facebook page:
    "I'm not really clear on how it is cheating if every other person you are competing against is doing the same thing. So in a field of blood doping steroid using people he, while doing the exact same thing, was still stronger and faster. What he did has no relevance since everyone he was judged against did the same. However his LYING about it is another matter."

  2. Ben_Ralston says:

    "…please read the article before commenting. And a) not everyone was doping, and the ones who weren't didn't have a chance therefore it's extremely unfair on them, and b) it's still cheating."

  3. Kim says:

    100% on! Thank you for so eloquently voicing how I feel about this topic – Lance – but more importantly truth and how it is the foundation of every single thing that is Spirit.

  4. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks Kim.
    And I'm sure you feel – as I do – sorry for Armstrong. Not because of the (let's face it – really very hard) situation he now finds himself in, but primarily because if you sink so low, you've got a long way to climb…

  5. Ben_Ralston says:

    Comment from EJ Facebook page:
    "Im surprised Ben isnt a bit more forgiving …Lance has done a lot of good things for people too and he's human… I dont feel like he should be demonized …he made mistakes hes admitting them and will move on. The sport will conintue …"

  6. Ben_Ralston says:

    "Hi, Ben Ralston here – I do 'forgive' him. I don't feel 'bad' towards him. But I think that the kind of abuse (let's be honest, that's what this whole story is about) that he perpetrated is endemic in our society, and this is a good opportunity to talk about it. I actually feel very sorry for him, because i can imagine what he's going through right now.

  7. Ben_Ralston says:

    Very interesting comment from EJ Facebook page:
    "as i understand it—it was a lot more than a few who were doping—it was many–if not most. the entire sport is rife with it. and when we speak about this 'doping'—-lets be clear about what type of performance enhancer he was using….its not like Lance was building himself up into some kind of super human/steroidal bionic man a la Mark MaGuire or Barry Bonds…. it was mostly small doses of IPO which increase or enhance oxygen into the blood stream. most were doing this admittedly. and he became very very good at hiding it. he still won those Tours because he was the best rider out there—-not because he was the 20th best rider who took some type of methamphetimine which allowed him unfairly to smoke the competition. since most in the top tiers were doing it—he simply leveled the playing field. he trained relentlessly and was still the best rider out there. any edge these drugs gave him was minimal. i dont know….maybe its because i live in Austin, Texas….and i used to see Lance training from time to time on my daily drives in the Hill Country—in the heat and the rain etc….that i just chose to not buy into this demonization of the man. he is an admitted liar—no doubt. and got his hands caught in the cookie jar–BIG TIME–FINALLY…but from an athletic point of view—he still won those races…"

  8. Ellyn says:

    I don’t see remorse either. He talks about himself in third person as if he is removed from his own actions. I see him having no connection to his despicable actions nor to the people he’s harmed. He seems dismissive, as if all he has to do is apologize for ruining people’s lives with his lies and law suits! This is the worst come to Jesus moment ever publicized that I can recall in recent history!

  9. Ben_Ralston says:

    Yes. Did you read the article linked to in the article by the words "he says he's sorry". For me that was the clincher!

  10. Ben_Ralston says:

    "Ben Ralston here and thank you for a fascinating comment. I'd like to challenge you to examine your views a bit more closely via my reply to you: you say he still won those races. Actually, he didn't, he's been stripped of the titles, and rightfully so. There were people competing in those races who didn't have "more oxygen in their bloodstream" (a little more oxygenated blood is a big deal in sport, right?), and there were people watching, and sponsoring, and supporting (see the "sorry" link in the article), who wouldn't have done so had they know that he had extra drug-enduced oxygen in his body. So it's about much more than sport and cheating and winning: it's about lies – as you say – and abuse. Abuse of trust, abuse of responsibility and power."

  11. Suzy says:

    Yes I think he’s more sorry he got caught than he is about doing it I’m the first place. I think he was full of arrogance, hubris, and invincibility. But why wouldn’t we forgive? Who among us hasn’t done the same thing (albeit on a MUCH smaller scale)? I think we do this to ourselves – put these people on a pedestal and wrap our egos up in them and then feel bitter disappointment when they aren’t what we thought. Maybe it’s that Lance was soooo lying and sticking to his lie! Maybe we all thought there was no way he could let us down.

  12. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this issue. For me, this issue speaks to a common problem that very few of us are exempt from. I call it the happiness trap. In my opinion, the majority of us (Lance Armstrong included) are attached to something; something that we believe will give us everything we desire and make us 'happy'. Whether it's fame, fortune, love, substances, shopping, food, health, fitness, status, success, etc. etc. etc, the list goes on and on. And it is through the unconscious pursuit of the things we are attached to that we experience pain and suffering (unconscious meaning that we pursue these things without recognizing they cannot actually make us happy). We think those things will make us happy but they can never, will never, ever make us happy. Happiness…true, authentic and lasting happiness can only ever come from connecting to and knowing the 'God' within us. While we place our happiness in things that shift, change and are impermanent, we remain in a constant state of powerlessness; always fearful and insecure, hopeful that our dreams will come true so we can accomplish what it is we need to accomplish in order to be happy. On a very deep level however, for many of us, a level beneath our consciousness we KNOW the only thing that can truly make us happy is our connection to our eternal ‘God’ selves. When we pursue our passions recognizing our source of happiness is within us, we are peaceful, joyful and powerful; we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our happiness is never in the hands of someone or something outside of us. This, I believe, is the lesson each of us is faced with learning. This, I believe, Lance Armstrong is being faced with understanding. If he wasn't attached to success, fame, power, money or whatever it is he was attached to, he would never have made the choices he made. Winning would never have meant that much…he wouldn’t have ever needed it that much. It's unfortunate that he used his influence in this way however, if we all use his experience to unplug from flinging judgments and instead, get curious about our own attachments (because the majority of us have them), perhaps this experience can have a positive spin. No?

  13. MatBoy says:

    What I remember most from the interview is Lance saying he regretted making his comeback because that is what pissed off Floyd Landis and opened the can of worms. He believed he would not have been caught had he not tried to come back. He is still the same ole' Lance playing a new manipulation game with us. Will be curious to see if he really gets stripped of everything and returns to ground zero and whether he can build a new, credible life – I'm thinking Sister Theresa credible here.

  14. LynnBonelli says:

    Forgive me but I am also commenting on a few of the FB comments I read on your article. From what I understand blood doping adds oxygenated blood into one's system. As someone who has run a couple or half marathons and one full marathon, I can understand how this is actually not a MINOR issue (it seems someone implied that it was "small doses" and NOT methamphetimines, which I guess they think is worse??). Once the oxygen is depleted from your blood stream you feel fatigue, muscle cramps, total muscle shutdown (have you seen the runners who lose their ability to hold their bowels) and built up lactic acid. This not only allows you to go faster for longer but it also means you can train harder and more frequently than your competitors who are busy recovering. (cont)

  15. LynnBonelli says:

    I remember a story on Lance in which scientists were so impressed by his VOX and lactic thesholds…it was practically non-human. Recieving oxygenated blood is a huge deal…covering it up and suing others for defemation of character when you KNOW you are lying is an even bigger deal. I cannot imagine how he could look at those trophies, speak to aspiring athletes and kids, knowing he didn't win due to his own ability. I think it's sad that us 'mortals' have looked up to these athletes, work hard, read the sports science books, hired trainers in an attempt to be even a fraction "as good" as someone like Lance only to find out that he cheated…he set the bar higher than even HE could reach had he not cheated. (cont)

  16. LynnBonelli says:

    But then again, as one FB commenter wrote, perhaps we give too much credit to athletes every where…we see professional who make more money than those trying to cure cancer, provide clean water and save the whales (etc. etc). And then to find out that (some) of them do so by doping (in any form) and we are supposed to take "I'm sorry" as a way to wiped the slate clean. I don't know…I'm rambling but this whole thing bothers me. Winning shouldn't be more important than the truth…keeping secrets shouldn't come at the expense of defaming whistle-blowers. It's too little to late for me.

  17. mike says:

    hmmmmm. what about YOUR shadows Ben, What are YOU truly sorry for?
    Until we face our OWN shadows no persons sorry will ever be enough.

  18. mike says:

    Never mind Gun Control, how about 'Judgement' control!

  19. Thaddeus1 says:

    My wife's brother raced for Garmin-Slipstream. He was clean his entire career and Garmin-Slipstream was/is a completely clean team, composed of many riders who doped previously. There were and are many riders who never doped and to blame the culture is absurd.

  20. Lisa Braddock says:

    Very well said. I appreciate your comments on *many* different levels. Those who aspire to life on a higher plain while practicing deception and dishonesty will fail. Can't have both.

  21. Laura says:

    I am not that disappointed in Lance, because I never paid much attention to him in the first place.

  22. Timmy_Robins says:

    I think the guy is a textbook sociopath. Worse yet, what if he used the cancer thing to his advantage?

  23. Refreshing to read an opinion of Armstrong that doesn't drag Livestrong Foundation into the controversy.

  24. Megan says:

    Give me a break. And how is it that we don't recognize that the world is run on lies? Excuse me? A bicyclist lied for 7 of his victories?? National news. Oprah interview. Let's all have an international debate on the character of this one athlete. He is just an expression of the greater system that is in place. The Federal Reserve in USA, the banking system worldwide is every single day lying to every single person. How do they make their money? How is a debt society that enslaves made? We are so immune to the actual things that enslave us that we hardly hear any public debate on a national scale about it. However we can have our attention on an athlete that cheated. The government cheats everyday. How many billions are not accounted for in Iraq? How many billions are spent on wars where there were lies and we entered them illegally? As long as we focus on the small lies the big lies never have to be disclosed. Hello? Anybody have anything to say about the lies that keep the world turning that is destroying our freedom and financial security? Hello? Where is the uprising among the educated knowledgable base? Here is a 12 year old that tells it like it is:

  25. Ben, I am so glad to see that you wrote this for EJ. I was honestly expecting to see an article with the apologist reasoning and persistent hero worship of Lance that I've seen in the past from this website. THANK YOU for speaking the truth about Truth.

  26. Ben_Ralston says:

    Two good points – the first I agree with totally (my intuition is that he's not really very sorry)
    And yes, people have a habit of putting people on a pedestal – it's called the cycle of abuse. Same thing entirely happened with John Friend…

  27. Ben_Ralston says:

    Spot on Joyce 🙂

  28. Ben_Ralston says:

    Yes, more oxygen in the blood when competing in any sport is a big deal. The guys with normal oxygenation didn't have a chance – is my understanding of it. But to be honest, any kind of cheating (any drug that gave any kind of edge) is just wrong in sport. It completely undermines the very purpose of the whole thing, and is a massive abuse of trust, which is what my article is really about.

  29. Ben_Ralston says:

    Yes, don't know how he can look himself in the eye, although clearly he does it by convincing himself that it's not that serious or important. And on the grander scale he's right you know 🙂
    But on the human scale, where we have to attach importance to *something*, all the kids and people that he inspired are now feeling cheated…

  30. Ben_Ralston says:

    Right, the whole system that we live in (which idolizes sports stars while people trying to provide clean water have no funding) is a disaster. We need to focus our attention (and use incidents like this to help us with that) to where it really matters…

  31. Ben_Ralston says:

    Well Mike, I'd love to have a chat with you over a cold beer (or hot tea) where we discuss our innermost selves, but a) I don't know you, and b) it's not in any way relevant to this discussion.
    This is about someone who systematically lied, cheated, and abused in very ruthless ways. On a very personal level – see the first link in the post and on a global level.
    I see from your second comment below that you think "judgement" is a bad thing. Well, it's not. Judgementalism (being overly critical is harmful, but judgement in the form of discernment is a powerful force with which we learn about the world around us and (hopefully) change things for the better. That's what this is all about.

  32. Ben_Ralston says:

    Can't have both. Exactly.

  33. Ben_Ralston says:

    Me too! But this is a good opportunity, as one commenter wrote above, to really examine some basic mechanisms that affect us all – in terms of fame, putting people on a pedestal, adulation, wealth, power, deception, abuse.

  34. Ben_Ralston says:

    Read the first link in the post. Its' a very good, personal piece.

  35. Mati i says:

    I was on the shame-on-you Lance A., until I realized that I was "judging" the wrong person. Not that he wasn't wrong and remorseless to boot. But he is, after all, just one man. The fault, in my opinion, lies in all of us. The same people who propped him up and idolized him. He was a great athlete, yes (regardless of his doping); but it was us who placed him on a pedestal merely for winning races (undeservedly or not). Our priorities as a society are completely skewed when athletes (good as they may be) earn millions and teachers, and other more vital professionals, barely make enough to live.

  36. Ben_Ralston says:

    The reason behind most of my work (including writing, videos, etc) is to expose what you are talking about in your comment, that I'd summarize in one word: abuse.
    Armstrong's story is really just a good way for us to discuss abuse (from my perspective).
    Thanks for the link to the video – interesting.
    I'm currently reading Sacred Economics, by Charles Eisenstein. You would like it.

  37. Megan says:

    No judgement intended on anyone discussing it nor on Lance. I am not a follower of sports nor sports stars however I think it's the principal that is the same regardless the subject. These flawed humans are only mirrors of our own society's dysfunction. It absolutely has nothing to do with him as an individual. As a human race we are entering an age where we are truly coming into recognition that we are all ONE. There is only one consciousness of which we are all a part. I think withdrawal from the status quo conversations going on in mainstream is only way any real Truth will be uncovered. It never will come to light with the conditioned responses and even discussions and arguing points between parties it is just an illusion of some sort of truth seeking. In Truth the only way to uncover Truth is to get beyond conditioned thinking and this whole dialog with Lance as subject is conditioned media and world level drama that keeps us from seeking the real Truth. It is the bigger picture that counts otherwise we live within the illusion of having some choice and say in what happens in the world. Did anyone notice that we as a society have the same conversation time and time again? In different forms. How many fallen stars have we had? We have the same governments in different disguise but they are still all the same. Different versions of the same paradigm. The only way to start a new conversation is to refuse to play by the rules as they have been laid out for us within the pretax of a real conversation. Part of a conditioned mind is not knowing it's conditioned.

  38. HeatherM says:

    What I remember most of his interview is when Oprah mentioned even his son was defending him. How do you explain such a 'lie' to your child? But as one news caster said and I agree, 'this is bigger than Lance.'

    And it is.

    Thanks for your article!!

  39. sara says:

    I blame him far more for the lengths he was willing to go to hide his cheating: Trying to ruin former friends and teammates, slander, threats, lawsuits…..all to keep the facade intact. Knowing as he gave his talks and looked people in the eye that not only had he cheated and lied about it, but was actually damaging people's lives as he lied about them, too. This is much more telling regarding his character and much more worthy of our judgment than how he won his races.

  40. Natalie Baginski says:

    I have been studing the yoga sutras this week, and it's interesting how the Yamas and Niyamas lay out these "observances" and "rules" for conduct, but really, one can only interpret these sutras at one's own level of consciousness. To a regular person like me, it sounds like "truthfulness" means don't lie and non-accumulation means "don't consume too much." But to one established in Cosmic Consciousness or beyond, like Maharishi Patanjali, these observances are spontaneous. Evolutionary action is natural when you are enlightened. For us normal folks, we are just doing as well as our level of consciousness will allow. Having said this, I have to agree with Ben because it's exhausting watching famous people and politicians work through their drama on TV and get attention and money and fame and book deals because they are struggling like the rest of us, but somehow it's more important than our little struggles? Everyone else is doping, it's the industry? Quit. If you love riding your bike, go ride your bike. Ride it fast, ride it hard, and enjoy it, and keep your blood and bones free from drugs and stay far far away from these people think that this kind of system is acceptable. It's not acceptable. And like any unhealthy relationship; you just leave. He could have not participated. He was so famous he could have started his own race somewhere for people who didn't want to use the drugs. I'm trying to be patient in traffic, Lance Armstrong wanted to win races…the guy next to me in this coffee shop is talking about being better at work…Lance is not special.

  41. mike says:

    Suggesting judgement is a bad thing is guess what…a judgement! I'm curious…do you know Lance personally?

  42. mike says:

    It would have been more honest if this article took into account OUR personal role in this. Its interesting that the people least effected by this never really paid much attention to Lance in the first place. Lance is merely a mirror of something in all of us.
    We need to remember we are ALL vulnerable. Not everyone that cheats or lies is truly conscious of it…and I wonder what circumstances & pressure he was under. We are hard on Lance because we are hard on ourselves…lighten up!

  43. Margi says:

    Hm. Yeah. What's healthy discernment and what's judgement(alism)…good discussion here….and food for thought…

  44. Ben_Ralston says:

    Megan, oneness is the fundamental reality.
    But superimposed upon that reality is another reality – that we are also (as well as essentially being, as you say, simply part of one consciousness), we are also animals, human beings, whose society is, as you also say, highly dysfunctional.
    Unfortunately many spiritual Seekers seek oneness (not realizing that it is what they are) and ignore the political, economic, societal realities of the world around them. That's not contributing to creating a new paradigm, it's actually supporting the old one through inaction.
    I believe we need to talk about stuff when it goes wrong in order to understand and change.