Armstrong confesses to doping on the Oprah Winfrey Network
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
It was inevitable. Everyone had already figured out that Lance Armstrong had doped during his cycling career and it was just a matter of when the man himself was going to confirm it. His choice medium for the revelation? The Oprah Winfrey Network last Thursday and Friday.
The man who once held seven Tour de France titles finally admitted to taking drugs in his quest to achieve glory. Within the first two minutes of the interview, through a series of “yes or no” questions, Lance Armstrong put to rest any doubts people had remaining about his guilt. Despite being prepared to hear his confession, I was stunned at the suddenness of it all. In the blink of an eye, it was over. His whole career was one big sham. Armstrong was a cheat.
It seemed to be a blatantly honest interview. Armstrong had several visible difficulties when talking about the effect his doping had on his family. When asked about how his son took the news, Armstrong said, “He has been remarkably calm and mature about it. I told him ‘if anyone says anything to you, do not defend me, just say ‘Hey, my dad says he is sorry.’ He said ‘I love you, you’re my dad this won’t change that.’” He also commented on his mother, “She is a wreck and she is not the type of person that would call me and say ‘Lance, I’m a wreck’ but my stepfather called and told me she was having a hard time. I said she is a tough lady and has gotten through every other tough moment. Then we were FaceTiming with my kids and I saw my mom and she was a wreck. It took seeing her to really realise that this has taken a toll on her life.”
At other points in the interview, Armstrong apologized for his treatment/bullying of various persons involved with him over the years, including former masseuse Emma O’Reilly and journalist David Walsh. However, he also denied certain things, such as his threatening to kick Christian Vande Velde off the team if Vande Velde didn’t dope with the rest of them. Armstrong also denied bribing the UCI (International Cycling Union): “It was not in exchange for help. They called and said they didn’t have a lot of money. I did. They asked if I would make a donation, so I did.”
But was Armstrong really and truly being completely honest about everything? After all, this is the same man who has stared point blank into thousands of cameras over the years and stated unflinchingly that he had never doped. For whatever reason, was he still just playing with us when he brushed aside accusations of threatening Vande Velde? Was he actually clean when he made his comeback and finished third? Did he really stop taking performance enhancing drugs in 2005? One can’t help but wonder if he just decided to cut his losses, admit what everyone already knew, and then try and salvage a sliver of sunshine from his comeback.
Following on that line of thinking, it’s not even clear if he’s sorry for what happened. When Winfrey continued down a line of questioning about whether Armstrong believed it possible to win the Tour de France without doping, he answered, “Not in that generation, and I’m not here to talk about others in that generation. It’s been well-documented. I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture, and that’s my mistake, and that’s what I have to be sorry for, and that’s what something and the sport is now paying the price because of that. So I am sorry for that. I didn’t have access to anything else that nobody else did.” It just seemed like he was never giving a full apology. It’s like when a little kid gets in trouble and apologizes, but then pipes up with, “But everyone else was doing it!”
Lance Armstrong may have answered the most pressing question about him, but as to the validity of the rest of the interview, it would be wise to take it with a grain of salt.