Friday, 18 January 2013

Lance Armstrong - Interview Part 1 - Comment

After years of denial Lance Armstrong finally confessed to Oprah Winfrey to having used performance enhancing drugs in winning the Tour de France 7 times.

That in itself was a little surprising as there had been thoughts that he wouldn’t admit to the whole truth and that the interview, which was pre-recorded, would be stage managed with pre-approved questions and topics.

There was also concerns that Oprah was chosen as she was friendly with Lance and therefore wouldn’t give him the grilling most cycling fans wanted.

Well having watched the first part I get the impression that these concerns may have been warranted.

Oprah did start fairly positively, hounding Armstrong and asking the big questions up front but the longer the interview went on it seemed, to me anyway, that she allowed him to wriggle off the hook too many times.

For example when she asked about the bullying I felt that was a big part of the interview, a big part into what made him dope and what made the rest of his team follow suit. In other words the ‘why’ questions.

I wanted to hear about the Simeoni incident in more detail and from this penitent version of Armstrong. But unless it comes in part 2 I think the opportunity has been missed.

Penitent. There’s another question. Is Lance actually sorry for what he has done? I don’t think he is. His answers never gave that impression, either in their content or their delivery. One part of the interview think is particularly interesting in this respect concerns his 2009 comeback.

OW – Do you regret coming back?

LA – I do. We wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t come back. 

That is clear regret. But is it remorse? Certainly he doesn’t say the word ‘sorry’ here and when the word does gets mentioned it’s never convincing. For example Lance says this:

“....I have to apologise to .....”
“ of the steps of the process is to say sorry....” 

All this points towards a forced expectation that he is sorry rather than an actual heartfelt apology.

There were other aspects that I didn’t believe. For example Lance was very firm in denying doping during the 2009 and 2010 Tours. I just don’t see how a 38 year old who hadn’t raced in 2 years could have come back and finished 3rd without doping, especially now he’s admitted that previous race wins were chemically aided.

There’s also still question marks over his donation to the UCI. There are reports that this donation was to hush up a positive test but nothing has been confirmed. Armstrong was quick to make public his dislike for the governing body but reluctant to give details of why if he hated them, he went ahead with the donation. Hopefully this will come in part 2.

Overall it was riveting viewing. But in terms of context and learning something new there was very little substance. Part 2 airs on Saturday night. Hopefully the second instalment can change that.

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