Why Lance Armstrong’s apology won’t work

Why Lance Armstrong’s apology won’t work

A self-serving apology is not worth the air waves it’s carried on.

Nick Clegg found this out last autumn, when, two years after breaking his election promise to vote against any increase in tuition fees, and with his poll ratings tanking, he apologised to voters in a much-mocked YouTube broadcast. Unsurprisingly, it made not a jot of difference to how people view him, and his ratings remain diabolical.

Now, Lance Armstrong apologises for serial cheating and bullying, more than a decade after he was first accused and several months after investigations revealed the massive extent of his dishonesty. Why now? The strong suspicion is that he simply wants to resume his sporting career – and his little piece of theatre has therefore been roundly rejected and condemned.

To be accepted and applauded, an apology must be a genuine expression of remorse – with no thought given to the dividend that might accrue. In March last year, I used this blog to congratulate Eric Joyce MP on his apology for drunken, violent behaviour in the House of Commons.  In July 2011, I welcomed novelist Kia Abdullah’s heartfelt retraction of a disgusting comment made about the death of three British students.

But both those examples pale into insignificance compared with the mother of all apologies, given by Conservative politician John Profumo in the early ‘60s after the Christine Keeler affair. Not only did he retire from public life, but began work as a volunteer cleaning toilets, and continued to do so until he died more than 40 years later. If that isn’t genuine remorse, I don’t know what is.

So if Armstrong wants a sceptical world to take his apology seriously, he should start showing  his regret, instead of merely stating it.

Article date

January 21st, 2013

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer

@RT_MediaTrainer

My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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