It’s hard to be too critical of Lance Armstrong – he not only cheated his way to fame, he bullied others and betrayed millions who believed in his self-righteous claims that he was an innocent man being persecuted by jealous enemies. His confession was not an expression of genuine remorse, but another cynical effort to choose the lesser of two evils in terms of his future.
Given all the evidence against him (and the case was overwhelming) continued denial would make him look ridiculous as well as dishonorable. He brought shame to his sport (a sport so rife with cheating at the highest level that it may be more like professional wrestling than a true sport) but on all sports.
Manti Te’o’s situation is vastly more complex. His biggest sin was not believing an incredibly elaborate fraud — many older, wiser, and more worldly people have been conned. And the many who think it could never happen to them are more naive than he was. (Listen to the tapes of some of the phone calls and acquaint yourself with the details of the situation before you throw stones).
Manti’s problem turned from at most innocent gullibility to one of integrity when he repeated his claim about losing a girlfriend to leukemia on national TV two days after he received anonymous information that the story was untrue, information which itself could have been a con. In retrospect, that was unwise. In real time, however, to expect him to accept this scant information and acknowledge that he had been duped, that everything he had thought and felt was the product of an elaborate fraud, is unreasonable. He was victimized in a very brutal way by the perpetrator of the ruse but, sadly he is being victimized again by cynical and self-righteous accusations.