The twisted tales of Lance Armstrong and Manti Te'o are now intertwined. Heroes to many, these athletes have lived lies before our eyes, and now those lies are unraveling within the same week.

Armstrong was adamant, even ruthless, in his denial that illegal means were ever employed to help propel the cyclist to seven Tour de France victories and an Olympic bronze medal. Te'o, who would break down on camera and before his Notre Dame football teammates when sharing the heartbreaking account of his girlfriend's losing battle with leukemia, now plays the victim of "someone's sick joke" (turns out Lennay Kekua never existed), and the university, as of this writing, has his back.

Like many following the latter storyline, first reported by Deadspin, I'm left to wonder if Te'o is that someone and the sick joke has been his - on us - all along. He's at the very least a co-conspirator, right? There was said to be a face-to-face meeting with Kekua after a Notre Dame game at Stanford, but now he tells us the couple "met online" and that he believed he was in an "an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone."

Armstrong peddled his denials for years. Perhaps his finally coming clean before the nation tonight during a prerecorded interview with Oprah Winfrey will inspire Te'o to come clean, too - before his once seemingly beautiful story of personal triumph over tragedy gets truly ugly.

Paul Steinbach is Senior Editor of Athletic Business.