The ‘Armstrong Syndrome’

By Dr. Jack Singer

The Ongoing Saga of Sports Figures Who Shock Us, By Lying, Cheating and Stealing From Us Our Role Models and Heroes

by Dr. Jack Singer

Lance Armstrong and Oprah WinfryFirst it’s major league baseball players blatantly lying about using performance enhancing doping to give themselves an edge. The consequences of that behavior were shown clearly last week when the baseball writer’s voted none of these superstars (those who had doping allegations against them) into the Hall of Fame this year, despite their illustrious careers.

And now, we have perhaps the saddest case of all. We all idolized Lance Armstrong for his ability to overcome cancer and still win a record seven consecutive Tour De France championships  between 1999 and 2005. We cherished the idea that no matter what happens to us, we can focus on a goal and still attain it. Disease be damned!

Sadly, now we learn that Armstrong was cheating the system after all despite vociferous and expensive claims to the contrary. We can posit that the best reason for doing this would be that he needed to achieve the ultimate so that everyone with a disease or other handicap who believed in Armstrong could still hope for their own ultimate success in achieving their goals.

However, on the upcoming Oprah interview, he admitted that his doping began prior to his cancer diagnosis, so his intent was not connected to giving others hope. In fact, the doping itself could possibly have exacerbated his condition.

The more likely reason for his doping and denial is that he possesses a narcissistic personality disorder, where his image and self-esteem are paramount. The attention he derived is and was addicting. There may even be some psychopathic elements in his personality, where in a Machiavellian way, any means to maintaining that image is justified, even lying and portraying a false heroic image to his admirers. There is little conscience involved here.

People do not have a serious personality disorder and then suddenly have an epiphany that results in a tug at their conscience. So why admit this now after fighting for so long to prove otherwise? The speculation is that the admission is seen as a means to an end… a way to gain something. In his case, it may be the (probably forlorn hope) that the lifetime racing ban will be reduced to a manageable number of years, so that perhaps he can continue to pursue his profession once the ban lifts.

This reminds me of a certain baseball player, who after years of defiantly denying the charges against him, suddenly admits to his crime, in order to be elected into the Hall of Fame, but still denying that he did anything wrong.

When asked if Armstrong seemed sincerely contrite in his “confession,” Oprah deferred her answer to the viewers. This certainly sounds like she was not convinced. She also said she did not believe that “He came clean in the manner which I expected.”

So, what do we make of this latest example of a world renowned athlete, role model, and for some, a hero, who lied and cheated his way to the top of the podium? We tend to be a forgiving people. We have forgiven presidents who appear genuinely contrite, we forgive powerful clergymen who appear genuinely contrite, and we forgive athletes who appear genuinely contrite. Indeed, we have elevated such people to hero and role model status a second time… just consider Bill Clinton and Michael Vick, for example.

The proof of the pudding lies with the viewers of his interview with Oprah. Is it a heartfelt confession, along with the acknowledgement of the real harm he committed, both to his body and to his followers and competitors, or is it simply a means to the end of Armstrong’s ultimate goal of remaining atop the podium of popularity and admiration?

Regardless of what you conclude, this is another slap to the faces of the thousands athletes in all sports, who reach their dreams without cheating and through excessively hard work and devotion. These are the real heroes, whom we should admire.

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About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit and or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

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