Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Re- cycling Lance Armstrong on the NHS

Lance Armstrong and James Savile have something in common, namely than both took advantage of the habitual sentimentality of the Anglo-Saxon public, the first to cheat his way to a large fortune and the second to obscure his sexual predation.

Armstrong was a man who overcame cancer to continue his lucrative athletic career, using some of the proceeds to set up a charity to help victims of cancer; Savile used his fame to raise money for hospitals such as St James in Leeds and Stoke Mandeville Hospital for spinal injuries. How could a man who helped cancer victims or who was the friend of paraplegics be anything other than good? We repeatedly forget that some of the worst dictators genuinely loved their dogs.

All is not lost for Armstrong, despite his assertion that being banned for life from competing in international sporting competitions is ‘a death sentence.’ Having read some of the transcription of his partial conviction on television, I am convinced that a glorious new career beckons him.

For example, when asked whether he was frightened of being caught, he replied:

  My ruthless desire to win at all costs served me well on the bike but the level it went to, for whatever reason, is a flaw.

Or again, when asked whether he was a bully:

  I was a bully in the sense that I tried to control the narrative.

Or yet again when asked whether a woman called Betsy Andreu had told the truth in claiming that he had confessed to a doctor that he was taking forbidden performance-enhancing drugs:

      I’m not going to take that on. I’m laying down on that one. I’m going to put that one down. She asked me, and I asked her not to talk about it.

It is obvious from these answers that the man is a natural and talented speaker of managerialese. He should at once apply for a senior position in the NHS, for example on the Care Quality Commission. His ability to distance himself from his own thoughts and decisions by turning them semantically into an impersonal force – ‘The level it [that is to say, his ambition] went to’ – and his ability to transform a plain refusal to answer into a smokescreen of verbiage are precisely the skills most desperately needed in the NHS, and no doubt in the rest of the British public administration. He should emigrate to Britain, where a second career awaits him.

First published in Salisbury Review.

Posted on 01/22/2013 6:33 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
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