Anonymous Postcard: Claim Detail

Claim No.: 005720080910

Lance Armstrong


Very few athletes earn the opportunity to transcend sport. You have. And, for the most part, at least in terms of your public mission, you've made a good start on trying to make the world better.

Now, please listen. Don't screw it up.

Muhammad Ali. That's where you want to end up: a cultural icon, symbol of significant social change, someone who has mattered. Roger Clemens. That's the nightmare no sense of public service and renewed public attention to your foibles can bring. Tiger Woods. The power to change the world for the better. Michael Jordan. A wasted opportunity to transcend, lost in the irrelevancies of his sport, a commercial triumph and a cultural zero.

This is hard to say because watching you accelerate away from your rivals up a major climb, touch the hand of one who stuck with you all the way to the top at the finish, and wait for one who fell on the way down to catch up are memories I cherish. You've made me fiercely proud more times than seems entirely sane to me. And being the person who did all of that must make this even harder to hear. But here goes.

Don't come back for the wrong reasons. Think long-term, and long and hard. Don't squander the larger platform you've already earned, which is so much more important than winning an 8th Tour. I know you're floundering a bit; you're still young and have a lot of energy. But don't go backwards out of boredom or hunger to regain the world's attention.

I started out meaning to say: Lance, don't do it. I can't say that. Because I want to see it too. But the success rate of hall-of-fame, all-time-great-caliber comebacks--in all sports--is very low, and it would be painful to see you tarnish your long-term potential.

So, if you're determined to just do it, please just do it right. Make it about more than you. Whatever happens, find the way to rise above. Make it count.

Mailed: 2008-09-25

All images copyright Tucker Nichols