Rick Snider: Can't forget Lance Armstrong's work, but can't forgive him, either

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Sports,Rick Snider

I want to forgive Lance Armstrong.

More than 575,000 Americans died of cancer last year, including several of my friends and family. Every time you see someone slipping away, prayers for a cure seem far more important than any consequences for someone who cheated in a bike race. Nothing breaks your heart like cancer. Nothing.

The Livestrong Foundation has raised more than $500 million toward cancer research and programs. Its impact goes far beyond those yellow bracelets and the cyclist who founded the group. Livestrong is about saving lives.

So I want to forgive Armstrong. I want Livestrong to regroup without him and continue to be a major force against cancer. I want to see our family and friends get needed support to live -- and live well. Maybe Livestrong can't save everyone, but it makes a difference.

And yet I can't forgive him.

Armstrong's the worst kind of cheater -- a liar who attacks others willing to tell the truth, a bully who thumbed his nose at testing organizations. And now he's a beggar, one who is asking for forgiveness via talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Of course, that's about the opportunity to compete again and not about being humble.

Armstrong will appear in a taped interview on Winfrey's cable network, OWN, on Thursday and Friday reportedly to confess that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, which included seven Tour de France victories. Supposedly Armstrong will admit his misdoings in some cagey way fashioned by lawyers.

Armstrong reportedly said last month, "You don't hold the keys to my redemption. There's one person who holds the keys to my redemption, and that's me."

Sorry you pompous jerk, but it's not. Absolution only comes through absolute honesty and a willingness to accept all punishment. It comes from speaking at an unscripted news conference, not Oprah's closed set. It doesn't come after negotiating penalties with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Want true forgiveness, Lance? Accept a lifetime ban like Pete Rose did for gambling on baseball. Rose doesn't love the sanction, but he has accepted it. And that's a sport Americans truly care about -- and not some bike race in France that matters for five seconds. There should be no second acts in triathlons now that your cycling career is done. You're on the sideline forever.

Those seven yellow jerseys on your wall you photographed as a rebuke to the USADA like some petulant child claiming it couldn't touch you? Auction them off for charity. May you never see them again.

Settle all those legal challenges over doping. Beg forgiveness from those you hurt. Spend the rest of your life trying to make up for your sins.

Why would Armstrong accept such severe punishments? He won't. There's nothing in it for him, and that's the bottom line with this guy -- it's all about him.

So I'm not forgiving Lance Armstrong. I'm just hoping Livestrong survives without his fundraising and continues to help thousands every year survive what's most important -- their lives.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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