Although the interview won’t be televised until Thursday, the story is already out: Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah Winfrey on Monday that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, even before he had cancer.
If he choked on the words, it might be because he never thought he’d hear himself admit to it.
Winfrey went on “CBS This Morning” to confirm that Armstrong had admitted to doping. She added:
“He did not come clean in the manner I expected. It was surprising to me. I would say that for myself, my team, all of us in the room, we were mesmerized by some of his answers. . . .”
Winfrey did not go into the details of his responses, because she’s promoting the broadcast on Thursday on her cable network. In fact, the 2 1/2-hour interview went so long that it will air over two nights, instead of just one.
Excerpts will run on the website Oprah.com.
Armstrong has been dogged by the doping allegations since he first won the Tour de France in 1999. He won his last of seven straight in 2005.
He steadfastly rejected those allegations over the years without a blink.
There was a change, however, after the 2010 Tour of California. That’s when news broke that former teammate and admitted cycling doper Floyd Landis would cooperate with authorities to investigate Armstrong. [You'll notice in this video from 2010, Armstrong doesn't deny the accusations specifically. He says his teams' records speak for themselves and attacks Landis' credibility.]
As I recall, that’s when Armstrong began repeating the defense that he had been tested by doping control more than 1,000 times and never had a positive result.
That was hardly a plea of innocence, merely a statement that he hasn’t been caught.
Last fall he said that he wouldn’t contest the findings of an investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency that banned him for life from competitive sports and recommended his be stripped of his 7 Tour de France championships.
Now Armstrong admits his guilt — to Oprah Winfrey.
After winning the fight against his cancer many years ago, let’s see if he can win the battle of public opinion.
For an interesting angle on the Oprah Winfrey interview, Gwen Knapp’s piece at Sports on Earth is worth a read.