Peddling the Truth or Coasting Downhill? Lance Armstrong and the Use of Image Repair Strategies

Author: Greg G. Armfield, Ph. D.*
New Mexico State University
John McGuire, Ph. D,
Oklahoma State University

* Please direct all correspondence to the first author Greg G. Armfield (Ph.D. University of Missouri) Associate Professor, New Mexico State University, Department of Communication Studies, MSC 3W, P.O. Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001, (575) 646-4729, e-mail:

This study examined image repair strategies of cyclist Lance Armstrong when he admitted in January 2013 to using performance enhancing drugs while winning seven consecutive Tour de France events, the sport’s most prestigious event. The findings show Armstrong favored mortification as a primary strategy while utilizing secondary image repair strategies including forms of reducing offensiveness (e.g., attacking one’s accusers, bolstering), denial (simple, shifting blame), and evading responsibility (defeasibility). Despite Armstrong’s efforts at image repair, researchers concluded it had failed as polling done after the interview found the public had turned against one of the most popular American athletes of the 2000s. The findings suggest that Armstrong’s prolonged evasion of the truth had undercut his ability to engage in successful image repair.