4 Personal Brand FAILS from Lance Armstrong’s Confession


Oprah Interviews Lance ArmstrongLance Armstrong’s confession to Oprah about using performance enhancement drugs throughout most of his cycling career signaled what should have been THE critical first step in his personal brand redemption. However, even though Lance came clean, he did more damage than good.

Here are 4 personal branding FAILS demonstrated through Lance’s words.



1. Lack of Sincerity

“I didn’t fail a test. Retroactively, I failed those.”

 “The definition of cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe that they don’t have. I didn’t view it that way.”

Lance has proven that he is a master of semantics, and this interview was no different. His monotone voice and choice of words continued to damage his credibility. Lance’s language was more of someone expressing arrogance and blame, and less of someone taking genuine and sincere ‘ownership’.

Yes, he verbally admitted he took performance enhancement drugs. He is owning up to that, but to not be fully transparent and say “I cheated” does not convey the sincerity we expected.

2. Selfish Intentions

“If you’re asking me if I want to compete again, the answer is hell yes, I’m a competitor.” 

WTF? This to me was an eye-opening statement.

Yes, Lance is an athlete and of course he wants to compete again. This is a given, but why emphasize it in this forum? This single comment was a personal branding killer. People go on Oprah to seek forgiveness, to offer their mea culpa, to pull back the curtain.  This comment confirmed that he simply wants to cut a deal with anti-doping authorities to compete again.

3. Woe is Me Attitude

“I don’t like thinking about it but it was a $75 million day.” 

Lance had a great opportunity to acknowledge that his selfish actions justified the loss his sponsorships. However, he chose to focus more on how he lost his future income as if this would be a reason for the world to feel bad for him. Give me a break Lance!

4. No Foundation of Integrity

“Everybody that gets caught is bummed out they got caught.”

“This story was so perfect for so long.”

Here’s my ultimate question: Would Lance have ever admitted to all of this if the evidence hadn’t been strong enough to strip him of his titles and ban him for life? After seeing this interview, it is clearer to me and millions of others that he likely never would have.

And Body Language Counts Too!

In addition to these verbal faux pas, Lance also managed to further damage his image simply with his body language.

People who are being transparent use open body language, steady eye contact, relaxed posture, and leaning forward or reaching out toward the other person. Lance demonstrated non-verbal communication that was quite the opposite to these actions throughout most of the interview. Many critics feel that his body language demonstrated that he continued to lie. Clearly not the impression he should have left.

Sure Lance’s legal team likely coached him on what to say, how to say it, and where to be vague. Lance will have legal trouble no matter what he says. Yet, if he truly wanted to pedal out of the starting gate and begin Stage 1 of the most important ‘Tour’ of his life, then he should have avoided these 4 personal branding FAILS.

Instead, Lance’s chain snapped and he is pedaling nowhere fast!


About the author

Peter Sterlacci Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer.” In a country where fitting-in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success. Follow Peter on Google+