Slow down boss.
Disgraced pro cyclist Lance Armstrong’s drive to overturn his lifetime ban for doping has hit an obstacle. Two actually.
Returning from an evening party event in Aspen, he lost control of his car on a suburban street and hit two parked cars.
To thicken the plot, his long time girlfriend Anna Hansen, sitting in the passenger seat, claimed it was she who was driving — to avoid the obvious negative headlines. She later admitted that no, the Boss was at the wheel.
With one sloppy turn of his SUV, Armstrong put a serious dent in his latest PR campaign. Last week, the ex-champion did an in-depth TV interview with Dan Roan of the BBC, pushing the view that his ban was way out of proportion to the crime. Then his friend and former US Postal rider Scott Mercier — who quit the team rather than dope — said he believed the penalty was way too harsh and that Armstrong was the rightful winner of those seven Tour de Frances.
Armstrong had momentum and he was back in the news with a scripted story designed to alter public opinion and nudge the UCI and USADA into commuting his sentence. That was before the accident that occurred December 29th after the couple left a gala at the St. Regis Aspen resort.
Hansen told police that Armstrong was not drunk and we have no particular reason to disbelieve that story. However, most people will be more than willing to think different. It was the holiday season, a big party event at the St. Regis Aspen Resort. Not a place where they hold Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Given Armstrong’s high profile and notoriety, Hansen did what most all of us would have done: cover for her partner. As she told police, “You know we’ve had our family name smeared over every paper in the world in the last couple of years and honestly, I’ve got teenagers, I just wanted to protect my family because I thought, ‘Gosh, Anna Hansen hit some cars, it’s not going to show up in the papers, but Lance Armstrong hit some cars, it’s going to be a national story.’”
Fair enough. In fact, Hansen comes out of this story looking like a sweet, loyal and honest person — not to mention attractive and athletic. A witness reports that moneys after the accident she came “running around the corner in her high heels in 6 inches of packed snow, which was pretty impressive.” Given that my wife broke her ankle in three places and ripped ligaments after our company Christmas party while wearing high heels, that kind of skill is more than amazing. (And yes, we had been drinking and no, it wasn’t national news.)
The upshot is that Armstrong should have done what he always accused his first wife Kristen of doing: “driving like a skirt.” The boss likes to say that only he is in charge of his redemption and we assume that goes double for his driving. Now Travis Tygart is in charge of Lance’s redemption and his girlfriend tried to take the wrap for his bad driving. Oh well ….
However, this event will certainly stall his get-out-of-ban campaign. Fair or not, there will be the unfortunate association between taking drugs and drinking alcohol. Worse, there will be the sense that once again, Armstrong did whatever he could to beat a penalty for a hit-and-run and possibly driving under the influence. In fact, USA Today writer Nancy Amour just made that point.
Seltbelt on, Lance. Slippery road ahead.