So, finally, American cyclist Lance Armstrong has told the world what we have long known to be true. He is mortal, after all. He cheated.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey -- and where else would you go to publicly confess in the modern world -- Armstrong revealed that the king of performance cycling is really little more than the king of performance enhancing.
It is ironic somehow that the admission comes within a week of four of Major League Baseball's major stars being denied entry into their sport's Hall of Fame because they used drugs of different kinds to enhance their performance.
But Armstrong's definitive admissions to Winfrey are, by far, the most compelling of these cases. Maybe that is because Armstrong himself is so compelling. A guy who battled enormous odds just to beat cancer not only defeats the insidious disease, but goes on to "win" cycling's Tour de France seven times, an event that had been dominated by Europeans for decades.
Those victories and his sincere commitment to his cancer research foundation and the cancer community coupled with adept commercial exposure turned Armstrong into one of America's most revered heroes. He was our latest Superman.
For a long while many chose to ignore the undercurrent roiling in the background. Charges that Armstrong had engaged in so-called blood doping were simply the sour-grapes wail of those who could not beat him. Besides, Superman wouldn't do
As the undercurrent grew louder and more credible, many of us stuck our fingers in our ears and whistled.
Then the charges began coming from former teammates. Still, there were some who dismissed them as coming from those jealous of Armstrong's place in the limelight. Besides, Superman wouldn't do that.
Finally, late last year, he was stripped of those seven titles and he chose not to fight it. Superman wouldn't do that either. Superman would fight. That is when we knew.
Only the most loyal believers could pass off his sudden indifference toward those titles as anything other than what it was: an admission that he had indeed doped his blood.
Now comes the full-on admission that Superman is, after all, just a man.
The admission carries consequences. So much so that Armstrong's representatives are in talks with the federal government about returning some of the nearly $30 million in sponsorship money that Armstrong and his team have collected over the last four years from the U.S. Postal Service. That always was an oxymoron for us anyway. Speed is not exactly the first thing we think of when we see the words U.S. Postal Service.
Be that as it may, the deed is done. Armstrong has confessed. We are sorry for this sad epilogue to a story that, clearly, was too good to be true. While we are angry with Armstrong for his betrayal of those who so loyally supported him, especially in the cancer community, we know that confession is good for the soul. It is nice to have the truth in the daylight. Whether America -- or the world, for that matter -- chooses to forgive him remains an open question.