Seven-time defrocked 41-year-old Tour de France cycling champion [1999-2006] Lance Armstrong agreed to a 90-minute confess-all interview Jan. 17 with Oprah Winfrey. Known for oozing empathy to even the most hopeless individuals, Oprah agreed to lend her rehab touch to the discredited cyclist, stripped of his prizes for suspected drug use. While Armstrong has consistently denied steroid abuse and had not tested positive during his cycling career for performance-enhancing drugs, he was ratted-out by his former U.S. Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis for using steroids. “Oprah Winfrey will speak exclusively with Lance Armstrong in his first no-holds-barred interview,” read a press released from Oprah’s publicist. Armstrong will appear on “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” her latest show on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Armstrong’s interview will also stream live on Oprah.com.
Armstrong hopes to get clemency from his lifetime ban from professional cycling. Banned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in Oct. 2012, Armstrong failed to testify in his own defense, leaving him guilty by default. Armstrong has steadfastly denied any doping since Landis was stripped of his Tour de France title for testing 11-times the normal limit of testosterone August 15, 2006. By going on Oprah, Armstrong hopes to gain some public forgiveness, admitting his mistakes but implicating professional cycling during his years of competition as rampant with doping abuses. “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” said Pat McQuaid, President of the International Cycling Union. When the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a 200-page report Oct. 10, 2012 on Armstrong doping history, his denials no longer had the same plausible deniability.
Banned for life from professional cycling, but more importantly, disgraced because of his unwillingness to fess up, Armstrong now seeks to use Oprah for a carefully orchestrated damage control strategy. His strategy won’t work unless he seems sincere and contrite during the 90-minute interview. Saying “this is a landmark day for cycling,” McQuaid hailed the decision to ban the sport’s most popular athlete over the last 10 years. Armstrong gained iconic status surviving a bout of stage-three testicular cancer and radical chemotherapy in 1996, returning to competitive cycling two year later. Oprah—and her audience—is especially sympathetic to cancer survivors, particularly one who beat cancer and returned to professional success. Armstrong’s detractors focus on his blood doping and steroid abuse not his 1997 nonprofit organization “LiveStrong,” Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Armstrong’s foundation created the ubiquitous yellow bracelets, now a symbol of fighting cancer around the globe. Armstrong’s decision to come clean with Oprah reflects his amazing story that touched everyone who’s ever overcome a debilitating illness. Telling associates that he’d like to continue competing, perhaps marathons or triathlons, he’d like other competitive bodies to allow him to compete. U.S. and international cycling authorities have been unambiguous about continuing Lance’s permanent ban. Disgraced by endless reports and a 200-page report about his doping activities, Armstrong finally acquiesced to a tell-all interview. When he meets with Oprah Jan. 17, it promises to be one of the most highly rated interviews since David Frost interviewed the late President Richard Nixon in 1977, hoping for a confession after the Watergate Scandal.
When Oprah interviews Armstrong Jan. 17, Armstrong will attempt to end the demonization that has cost him his honor and reputation. “Armstrong will address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating, and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his storied cycling career,” read the press release. Bearing his soul to Oprah won’t get his Tour de France prizes back but might salvage some of his dignity. Everyone makes mistakes in the course of long lifetime. Armstrong could make a strong case for how his sport was overrun with blood-doping and PEDs when he competed. Judging by today’s induction results into Baseball’s Hall of Fame, the biggest steroid-abusing names in Baseball, including single-season and lifetime homerun king Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young-winning pitcher Roger “The Rocket” Clemens, were passed over.
If Lance plays his cards right, going on Oprah could help the 41-year-old cancer survivor revive some of his humanness. Whether or not his expected confession wins back any sympathy is anyone’s guess. Armstrong’s highly anticipated confession on national TV should be a real story in forgiveness and damage control. While it’s difficult to put the genie back in the bottle, it’s possible to put his doping experiences into context. If enough people get that his whole sport was corrupted at the time, it could help place better light on his past indiscretions. When and if Lance has something to say, there won’t be any secret about it,” hinting that Oprah’s “no holds barred” interview should expose all the dirt. Showing sincerity, humility and contrition, Armstrong could very well rehab himself back into the media’s good graces, landing him some face-time back in the news.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.