How many times have we heard it said?
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing.”
In the case of Lance Armstrong’s doping misdeeds, we can probably say – with the benefit of hindsight – that, even from his earliest days as a competitive athlete, the Texan was so determined to win that he would do anything to come first.
We don’t know for sure, but hindsight suggests that, as a hard-riding, hard-running, swift-swimming triathlete whose thirst for victory seemingly knew no bounds, he might well have been using performance enhancing drugs for years before he became a professional cyclist.
So now, with hindsight, we can say we saw his downfall coming.
But can we, and did we?
And – if we did – would foresight have set off alarm bells so loud that even Armstrong would’ve heard them above the clamour of his adoring fans and the sound of cash registers ringing all over the world? And would he have changed his methods?
I doubt it.
For as much as Armstrong was – as others have said – a serial cheat, he was also a serial winner; a man so driven that such foresight as he might’ve had would have been scattered to the outer fringes of his peripheral vision as he focused intently on his plans for winning.
For him, the prize was everything. Nothing else was ever in sight. Over and over and over again.
Now, of course, hindsight tells us that – with foresight – he should have seen the eventual outcome long before it arrived.
But in Armstrong’s head-down, pedal-for-all-you’re-worth, win-at-any-price, the-prize-is-worth-the-pain world there was never any room for foresight.
It’s as if it was only for losers; people who, by thinking ahead, try to anticipate what might be round the next corner and take appropriate action. And then don’t win.
And that’s a shame because – with foresight – even Armstrong could’ve guessed that the discovery of his serial cheating would destroy his reputation and the exalted place he’s occupied in the only world he’s known for the last twenty years.
And, with foresight on his side, we might – even with hindsight – still be blind to his misdemeanours and see him for what he is: a very determined man.
Ultimately, neither hindsight nor foresight will come out as winners.
For hindsight has taught us nothing and we’ll learn nothing from foresight.
Perhaps Armstrong is the real winner.
After all, he was first in his time and seen to be first.
It’s only the wisdom of hindsight that’s condemned him for his lack of foresight.