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Lance Armstrong Interview Part 1: A Few Thoughts

The first part of the Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah Winfrey was broadcast last night. While I intend on waiting to watch the second part before making any overall judgements, there are a number of questions and issues that have already been raised in the first part.

As an aside, there has been a lot of discussion over Oprah’s handling of the interview. In my opinion, she has asked the right questions so far, but has been far too easy on him and it would have been interesting for her to push him on some of the issues further, rather than seemingly just moving onto the next question on her sheet.

1. His claim that the last time that he doped was during the 2005 Tour de France

There is evidence from the blood passport that he doped during his comeback in 2009 and 2010. Given that he acknowledged that he felt that the blood passport was a game changer, and that it worked, how can he now claim that it was wrong in suggesting that he had been doping during his comeback.

Another very convenient aspect of this claim is that the statute of limitation. In the WADA code, there is a statute of limitation of eight years. Further back than this, they cannot charge Armstrong with any doping offenses. Therefore, the timing of this interview is very interesting. Now that we are into 2013, it means that WADA cannot go back beyond 2005, i.e. the year of his retirement.

2. The issue of his donation to the UCI

He claimed in the interview that, after his retirement in 2005, the UCI approached him for a donation as they were short of money. As he was already retired, he donated the money. However, there are a number of discrepancies between his story and that given by the head of the UCI, Pat McQuaid. McQuaid has stated that Armstrong offered the money himself, and that it was long before his retirement in 2005.

The other question is that he emphasised repeatedly in the interview that he does not like the UCI. However, when approached, he was perfectly happy to donate $125,000 to the organisation. It raises questions as to what exactly his motivations were?

3. He did not feel that he was cheating

He argues that he did not feel that he was cheating during the period that he was doping. His argument that cheating involves gaining an unfair advantage that was not available to others seems ridiculous, and by stating that the preparation was everything and that the actual winning was simply ‘phoning it in’ does not seem to match up.

If he was doping simply to create a ‘level playing field’, then it seems difficult to accept that the win was as guaranteed as he suggests. It can only be that guaranteed if you do have an advantage over the rest of the competition.

4. His treatment of those that he ‘ran over’ in his quest to preserve his innocence

The question of his treatment of those that accused him of doping was raised, in particular, Betsy Andreu and Emma O’Reilly. While he admitted that Emma O’Reilly had not lied, despite his previous claims, he barely came across as contrite, and his refusal to withdraw his claim that Betsy Andreu was a ‘lier’ was disgraceful.

After the interview, Betsy Andreu has stated how “this is a guy who used to be my friend who decimated me... The hospital is where it all started... if he wants a shot of redemption here, he’s dropping the ball.”

5. His overall demeanor and motivation for the interview

While he has admitted a lot of things during the interview, there does not seem to be any real regret or contrition, with the exception of having been caught. The arrogance is still there, and the only believable thing that he admitted that he regret was his comeback, which he admitted probably led to the snowball effect that has resulted from the Floyd Landis testimony. In other words, he regrets being caught.

It is still unclear really what his motivation for doing the interview is. It would appear that they intend to go into this in more detail tomorrow, so we shall have to wait and see.

For a look at how straight-forward it was for Armstrong and other leading athletes to pass drugs tests, check out our article "Can We Trust Drugs Tests?"

1 comment:

  1. The words is Part 2 of the interview is mainly personal stuff like his mom, family, friends which will portray him in a much more humane way. So Oprah has completely let him off the hook. I think theh reason they separate the interviews is that the realizes this, and put out Part 1 first to "appear" to be hard on him, when the 2 Part's are taken as a whole, its clear (pardon the pun) that Lance has taken her for a ride just like everyone else.


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