‘LieStrong’: Student Columnists React to Lance Armstrong Doping Confession

In a two-part prime-time special late last week, former champion cyclist Lance Armstrong told Oprah Winfrey he used performance-enhancing drugs during the height of his once-renowned career.  Although slightly overshadowed by the Notre Dame Manti Te’o online love hoax, Armstrong’s on-camera confession has still spurred worldwide media attention and a bevy of public reactions since its airing.

In a slew of commentaries and editorials, student journalists have also been weighing in. The students’ sentiments overall: Apology accepted, but it does not negate the lies.

As Clayton Fuller writes in The Lantern at Ohio State University, “LieStrong. That’s how you summarize the disappointment of something being too good to be true. . . . And for now it seems, that’s what a once-special message of empowerment and inspiration has been reduced to amid the surging news of Lance Armstrong’s confession to using performance-enhancing drugs.”

Michigan State University senior Josh Mansour is taking Armstrong’s lies especially personally. Mansour, a men’s basketball reporter for The State News, lost his mother to cancer.


In a State News piece, headlined “Armstrong’s Confession Insulting to True Heroes,” he writes, “It makes me feel like my mom was manipulated and lied to, taken advantage of in her darkest hour. When you’re immersed in the fight of your life, you need something to believe in. A belief that you could not only survive cancer, but live a thriving, prosperous life, physically stronger than ever before. For my mom, and millions of people around the world, that belief was personified in Armstrong. … That’s tainted now, tarnished. I guess it always was. I’m left with the betrayal my mom isn’t around to feel.”

Indiana State University student Julian Winborn fully understands the public’s feelings of betrayal. But, in a column for the Indiana Statesman, he reminds readers that “something must be said for Armstrong’s philanthropy.”

As Winborn writes, “All of us can nod disapprovingly toward his doping saga, but the fact remains that he founded a foundation for people who are and will endure in the same struggle against cancer. The Livestrong Foundation has donated an overwhelming amount of money to cancer patients and research. And the Foundation has taken up the task of supporting each person who is willing to accept their help through a myriad of resources for cancer patients and survivors. Aside from his legacy that is the Livestrong Foundation, Lance Armstrong also serves [as] a prominent beacon of hope to millions.”


For John Russett at St. Cloud State University, Armstrong’s confession ultimately just begs more questions. As he asks in The University Chronicle, “[W]ho is the real Lance Armstrong? Is he the guy who wanted so badly to help the people who could not help themselves, or is he the guy who wanted to bring down people who were correct in their assertions of Armstrong being a cheater and a liar? It seems these two personal philosophies cannot exist within the same person, can they? … He admitted what he did was wrong. He admitted he was a ‘bully’ and did some things which he regrets. But overall, is he really sorry?”

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