Donald Trump is no different from Lance Armstrong

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I was one of those Americans desperate to believe the actions of a man who seemed to overcome the odds and bring hope where it was previously missing. No, I am not talking about Donald Trump and his run for President. I never hopped on board that train and doubt I ever will, thanks in large part to the man I did fall for, hook, line, and sinker; Lance Armstrong.

The two are very similar in how they have became larger than life figures and it was Armstrong’s journey and the manner in which he set about systematically destroying anyone who got in the way of the lie he was trying to pass as greatness — that will be how he is remembered. The similarities in how the two men conduct themselves cannot be overlooked and if we study what Armstrong did and how he fell from grace, we can see how our president is following the same path.

HUNGER: Both Trump and Armstrong believed they had special gifts that would take them far in life, but along with those gifts, they had a hunger to do anything and everything to get to where they desired. In his pre-Tour de France days, Armstrong was viewed by many in the cycling community as a brash Texan with a load of talent who lacked the respect for the traditions of a European sport in much the way Trump failed to value the nuances of life among the upper crust of New York. Trump was an outsider who sought to not just be accepted, but to become the most important and sought after person among a peer group that seemed to tolerate his classlessness.

Neither man would allow the way their more established competition held them back or for that matter, change who they were at their core. They would show the world who they were by outworking and out smarting those who sneered at their mere presence.

When Armstrong won the World Championship of road cycling and became a lifetime member of the Rainbow Club in 1993, it seemed it would be the first of many for the young man. Still, it’s one thing to win the World Championship, but another to win the real crown jewel of cycling, the Tour de France.

Despite his talent, it was believed Armstrong lacked the type of body for winning anything beyond the one-day classics and he was not seen as a threat to win a three week race, much like Trump was never seen early on to become much more than a New York real estate success.

CANCER: Just as Armstrong seemed set to become one of the great classics riders of all time, he was diagnosed with cancer. It seemed unfair that a young man with so much talent and personality be struck with cancer at such a young age.

We know the story. He overcame it. He won his battle with the ugliest of diseases and was given the green light to resume his career.

But there was another cancer already growing inside Lance Armstrong, one that would involve his lying to doctors about the use of performance enhancing drugs. He was already a cheat because at the time he was competing, everyone else was cheating too. Like Trump, Armstrong realized sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to win because to them, no one remembers losers and they had no intention of being easily forgotten.

GREATNESS: By 1997, Lance Armstrong was taking full advantage of his successful fight against cancer. His illness changed his body from a more powerfully built rider to one lighter and better designed for the grind of a three week race. He had an added level of mental toughness having gone through the rigors of cancer treatment and was surrounded by investors who were ready to profit off his story.

This level of investment gave Lance and his cycling team a big advantage as they took cheating to a level it had never seen before. Doctors and scientists were employed, or paid off, to supply and over see his use of performance enhancing drugs in a way that kept them well ahead of the testing protocols. Armstrong’s teammates were well paid too which ensured him plenty of riding support on the most challenging climbs in the world.

In this way, it is no different than Trump expanding his brand beyond the east coast as he ventured into the money making world of questionable branding that has resulted in him getting very rich off of failed ventures like Trump University. In Trump’s eyes, he was just doing what everyone else was doing to add to their bank account. In reality, it was nothing more than the end justifying the means.

Trump’s quest for being one of the wealthiest men in the world caused him to seek a path that was nothing like that of the men he wanted to be compared to, like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. However, as long as Trump could convince others he was, his path did not matter.

As for Armstrong, his cheating was justified because all the other riders cheated and besides, he was riding for a cause, one we all could admire: destroy cancer. Visits to hospitals, fund raisers raking in huge amounts of money, Live Strong campaign, and a celebrity relationship made Lance larger than life, something that was the real driving force behind his actions both on and off a bike.

THE RESPONSE: When Trump has been questioned or accused of improprieties, his response has always been loud and aggressive. He hires attorneys to fight litigation in every way possible, signs off on settlements that are sealed so he can claim he is not allowed to tell the real story, and he sets about assassinating the character of those who accuse him of any wrong doing. In other words, he is a bully with a lot of money.

Armstrong was no different. Lawsuits against journalists and newspapers who published stories of him being a cheat without him having failed a test split people into two camps. His supporters, loud and passionate, often went on the attack for Lance and added to the misery of those who just wanted the truth made public.

A team of high paid lawyers kept Lance out of court until it was no longer possible and then set about trying to get every charge tossed out. Millions of dollars spent to defend a man who was living a lie and selling that lie to the public for profit.

Loyalty was demanded by Armstrong and no one rode for him without pledging that loyalty, until Lance had a teammate named Frankie Andreu whose wife was not about to put up with a husband who cheated at his sport. When she caught wind of what Armstrong was doing and how he was getting away with it, she spoke up and boy did she pay a price.

Of all the people Lance set about destroying, no one took as many vicious hits as Betsy Andreu. Team Armstrong was merciless in destroying her credibility and did not care that it was being done to protect their asses. What they did not bank on was Betsy Andreu was tougher than a Trump steak and took every hit and punched back. A woman was doing what no man dared do to Lance: stand toe to toe with the bully and show the world who he really was.

We all know how it turned out for Armstrong. Evidence continued to mount as riders who chose to retire and talk began doing so and corroborating what Betsy Andreu had already laid out: Lance Armstrong was a cheat and a hoax of the worst kind.

END GAME: In this sense, Betsy Andreau was Lance Armstrong’s James Comey. She did not care about money. She was not interested in the limelight. She simply wasn’t going to allow the most powerful person in the field of professional cycling to destroy her name and reputation or get away with a hoax.

Since Lance’s fall from grace, we have heard next to nothing from this woman who is content to just going back to being the person she wanted to be and live the life she sought to live before someone powerful enough decided to try and destroy her life.

Lance has not fully come clean. Yes, he has admitted to his cheating ways and been stripped of his titles, but he still sees and calls himself the winner of seven straight Tour de France titles because as he has said many times, the titles were not given to anyone else because they were also cheating.

In this sense, he is like Trump and his supporters who love to bring up the perceived wrong doings of the Clintons or Obama as a reason he should not be under investigation. You see, in the world of a Donald Trump or Lance Armstrong, two wrongs do make a right. If Trump and his empire have expanded to the point where companies directly associated with him are in the midst of bidding on government projects like a wall he wants built, or a new federal building here or there, they do not see the conflict of interest.

I believe James Comey when he says Trump is a liar. I believe him when he makes claims of Trump wanting undying loyalty.

Trump, as much as he would like us to think otherwise, is not an original. Before him there was Lance Armstrong. Maybe a smaller version, one less wealthy, one with even bigger plans perhaps once his cycling career ended, but nevertheless, one whose tactics were no different.

James Comey, and Sally Yates for that matter, are just the beginning of Trump’s downfall. People like this will not back down out of fear. They draw a strength from a conviction that is far greater than anything Trump possesses. As long as others draw strength from them, Trump’s house of cards will come crashing down on him, only unlike Lance Armstrong, no one will buy his apology — should he ever make one.

All photos are screen shots from YouTube videos
Top photo: Lance Armstrong on his stage-winning ascent of Luz Ardiden in 2003, after he had been knocked
off his bike by a bystander. It is considered one of the most incredible feats in road cycling.