January 23, 2013

The People v Lance Armstrong

The People v Lance Armstrong

Recent headlines have been dominated by sports scandals.

The first was about disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who finally admitted he was a cheater and had been doping for most, if not all, of his career. Lance’s confession confirmed what many of us unfortunately already believed to be true, accurately as it turns out.

The second was about Manti T’eo. The Notre Dame linebacker admitted that the girlfriend who was his inspiration for waking up in the morning and who allegedly died of Leukemia was the product of an elaborate hoax. You just can’t make this stuff up.

To judge from the headlines, you would think that deceit and deception are the rule of the day, and not just in sports. Whether it’s Armstrong’s seven misbegotten Tour de France titles, or the 73 home runs that Cardinals First Baseman Mark McGuire hit in a single season with an assist from regular steroid injections, or the 12% annual investment returns Bernie Madoff routinely delivered by playing an endless game of Friends with Cash, time and again we are confronted with the reality that if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.

In my role as Marcum’s Managing Partner, I am often called upon to mediate and negotiate business disputes, partnership disagreements, family business issues and other contentious situations, so I feel I have a certain amount of qualified experience in this area. I’m going to go out on a limb here and appoint myself judge, jury and executioner in the matter of Armstrong’s confession. This will save us all from years and years of a media circus around the criminal and civil implications, not to mention the cost (with apologies to my attorney friends), of The People v Lance Armstrong.

So here goes.  Lance, this is the price you will pay for the error of your ways:

  1. You will never take part in a competitive sporting event ever again. Not biking, not a triathlon, not a touch football pick-up game, nothing! Not as a participant, coach, organizer, commentator, or in any other capacity.

  2. It has been reported that your net worth exceeds $100 million. Since your fortune appears to be the ill-gotten gain of your fraud, guess what? Bye, bye $100 million. Actually, we will let you keep $100,000 to help you get back in the saddle, so to speak, and on the road to rightness.  The other $99,900,000 will be used for perhaps the only good thing to come out of your professional career. It will all go to the Live Strong Foundation.

  3. You know that book deal you’re most likely working on? That movie of the week? You will not keep a penny. Live Strong will get that, too.

  4. Speaking of Live Strong, you’re out. Banned. Persona non grata. You will have no involvement, no position, no compensation. Nothing. Their good work cannot be tainted by you.

  5. The good news: you’re not going to do any jail time. Community service is a much better option. You will spend the next decade contributing 500 hours per year to the World Anti-Doping Agency, where you will look high school and college athletes in the face and let them know what happens when you do what you did.

Lance, a word of advice. Sometimes the first offer is the best. So take this deal. You’re not going to get a better one, and when you reflect on this in hindsight, it’s going to look like a Sunday ride in the park compared with how you will probably fare under the criminal, civil and Olympic judiciaries.

As for Manti T’eo, let me say this. I believe in technology (I’m writing this from a wireless laptop connected via Wi-Fi to the Marcum network) and social media (hence this blog and my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds) as much as anyone. But can we all concede one thing? In order to have a girlfriend, boyfriend or significant other, you have to actually meet the other person first.