Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o needs to take a long, hard look at the Lance Armstrong spectacle.
If Te'o is lying about his role in the dead girlfriend hoax, he has to come clean now. The alternative is to end up a smaller version of Armstrong, who this week finally admitted using performance- enhancing drugs to win seven straight Tour de France titles.
Armstrong's "confession" to Oprah Winfrey was excruciating. There were far too many rationalizations lots of other cyclists were doping, a win-at-all-costs mentality carried over from his fight against cancer and far too few apologies. There was little remorse for the lasting damage he did to the people he vilified and to the sport he supposedly loved.
Te'o conceded this week that the girlfriend he repeatedly talked about didn't exist in real life. The heart-wrenching story she supposedly died of leukemia within hours of his grandmother in September embellished his on-the-field talents to make him immensely popular and a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Te'o claims he was the victim of a cruel deception, but there are many inconsistencies. If he's not careful, his NFL career could be at risk.
If there's a common lesson to these stories that have jumped from the sports world into popular culture, it's that lies beget lies. It gets more and more difficult to eventually face the truth.