I watched the Lance Armstrong interview last Thursday and Friday. There has been lots of commentary and reaction to his interview. I particularly was interested in the reaction of people like Tyler Hamilton, his former teammate and author of The Secret Race, and from Betsy Andreu wife of Frankie Andreu and one of the first people to challenge Lance about his doping. My reaction to a Lance’s interview on Oprah is that he remains a consistently egotistical jerk in the face of all who have now revealed his cheating ways. He says he didn't read Tyler Hamilton’s book---if anyone buys that I have some bridges to sell to them.
Lance says he is coming forward now so that he can return to professional sports after a reasonable period of time. At the moment he faces a lifetime ban from any sport with anti-doping regulations enforced by the US Anti Doping Agency (USADA) so that eliminates pro cycling, and almost all marathons and triathlons. What Lance is doing has nothing whatsoever about a desire to return to pro sports at any level. Pro cycling is out of the question forever; which event would invite him or who would even want to race with him. Further, imagine the protection he would need? In the past Lance complained that some fans were throwing beer on him as he raced up the Alpe D’Huez during the Tour de France I suspect that those fans in France would throw more than beer on him if he took another trip up the Alpe D'Huez. Does he really think anybody wants to see him enter into any competition? Frankly Lance would be delusional if he harbors any thought that he would get paid appearance money as he has in the past for merely entering a sporting event, unless that is he want to take up pro wrestling.
So why did Lance go on Oprah? As a trial lawyer I see this whole Lance-Oprah show as having only 2 audiences; potential jurors for any number of upcoming trials he faces and his opposing counsel. Lance is well advised by teams of lawyers and by experienced media relation advisors. He is showing how good of a witness he can be, maintaining control throughout the questioning. There is every reason to suspect that Lance and his co-defendants are deep into negotiations with the US Department of Justice over the False Claims Act qui tam civil suit filed by Floyd Landis to potentially recover three times what the US Postal Service paid to sponsor the Postal Service team. Reportedly Lance and company offered $5 million to settle, while the government’s demand potentially is closer to $95 million. The parties are talking. That I suspect is why the US DOJ did not publicly announce its decision about joining the Floyd Landis qui tam lawsuit. The US DOJ had announced that it would announce its decision last Thursday. Instead it held off. I suspect that Lance went on Oprah to show the US DOJ that he can be a formidable, unshakable witness at trial to influence those settlement negotiations. He also needs to start rehabilitating his public image as eventually he will be could expect to be facing multiple juries as numerous parties will be coming after him.
Lance at this point probably could care less about the sport, and his fans. Watching the interviews it seemed to me that his regret is not that he cheated, but that he got caught. Lance in the end seems to care only about Lance.
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