Questions after The Oprah Show

Friday, 18 January 2013

Armstrong Oprah

Everyone seems to have a verdict on the Oprah show. Reviewing last night’s TV would be a novelty for this blog so if you want a good take see Bonnie Ford on ESPN for a strong piece that goes from body language to the big picture.

Given we already knew Armstrong was doping, there were not many answers to long standing questions during the show. In fact we got some revelations that only bring more questions. Here are questions for Armstrong, for the sport, its officials, the media and even the riders.

Chapeau
Oprah did ask about detail and procedure more than I expected, I thought she might want to explore emotion – maybe this is coming in Part II? For example when Armstrong talked about testosterone use he quips about “running low” because he’d lost a testicle Oprah didn’t fall for it, she punched back with a question on blood transfusions.

Questions for Armstrong
He stated the level playing field fallacy, “I didn’t have access to anything else that nobody else did.” He and his entourage spent more money than others in the sport and it’s possible that by chance he responded better to blood manipulation.

  • Does he believe he just did the same as others or will he consider that US Postal/Discovery was spending more than others?

Armstrong said he was not doping during his comeback in 2009 and 2010 but some blood data suggest otherwise.

  • To clear this up would he be willing to give up his SRM power files so people can compare his training and race performances from 2009 to past years?

There are the personal issues here with those he’s clashed with. At one point he said he couldn’t remember those he sued because there were so many along the way.

  • What steps can he take to make amends?
  • Is he expecting legal action from Emma O’Reilly or will he be reaching a settlement with her? The same for others?
  • Does he know why the investigation led by Jeff Novitzky was suddenly dropped?

Update: He stated he didn’t dope since 2005. We’ve seen him working with Ferrari after this date but run with this for a minute. Because if the ban is reduced from a lifetime to eight years then 2005 + 8 = 2013. Meaning if Armstrong can assist USADA in their prosecution and convince them he’s been clean since the 2005 then he can race this summer. Big ifs but maybe this sheds light on his agenda? Thanks to James Vaughan for raising this point in the comments below.

Questions for Bruyneel and others
The silence coming from those in Lance Armstrong’s entourage is deafening. Perhaps legal considerations mean they can’t speak out. But even the most loyal of Armstrong fans dressed in the livery of Livestrong leisurewear can speak about what happened now. This means plenty of people should have account for their time on the US Postal team bus.

  • Is Johan Bruyneel still going to arbitration with USADA?
  • Where is Katusha manager Viatcheslav Vladimirovich Ekimov?
  • Who else in the team management knew about this?

Questions for the UCI
Someone at the UCI seems to have stayed up to watch the show. A press release came out before 9.00am Euro time and “welcomes Lance Armstrong’s decision finally to come clean.” A refreshing change from labelling people “scumbags”, no?

The press release reads fine if you skim it quickly but re-read it and we’re still not clear on several things. First the backdated TUE letter after Armstrong tested positive in 1999:

  • What did the UCI know at the time here? Did it have suspicions? Did it increase the tests on Armstrong for cortisone?

Let’s take the donation, the subject that won’t go away. We’ve had different versions out there about the sum, the timing and the number of payments but this still hasn’t been cleared up. Last night Armstrong said the UCI asked him for the donation which matters because we’d been led to believe that it was Armstrong who volunteered the money.

  • Can we finally see the donation receipt(s) in public?
  • Why did the UCI ask Armstrong for money? Did it solicit other athletes?

The press release states “there were no positive tests which were covered up” which is fine but we know this. We also know there was the suspicious test at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland. It was not a positive test that got buried, no sir. But Armstrong’s lab samples suggested EPO use, only not in such strong terms to secure a conviction:

  • Did the UCI know about the suspect data?
  • Was there a meeting? Armstrong said there was no “secret meeting” but just the other day Martial Saugy claims the UCI arranged a meeting
  • if the UCI knew about a potential borderline case what did it do next? Call Armstrong? Test him more? Ask for money?

Questions for the media
At times the Armstrong story is becoming a celebrity feast with vultures circling over the carcass of fallen man. No doubt Armstrong’s hubris brought nemesis but the way some are feasting isn’t pretty.

  • Can some of the energy expended on covering the TV appearance of one man can now be expended on probing the sport, its institutions and its culture?

Some sections are doing a great job here but at times others are one step away from reporting on events in the way tabloids track Kim Kardashian, a breathless “he said, she said” account that takes us nowhere beyond the gutter of gossip.

Questions for the peloton
Today’s riders are supposed to be the public face of the sport. Speaking out is awkward but if they stay silent then Armstrong is going to be the image of the sport. It’s unfair and awkward but leading riders need to confront the problem and condemn the widespread fraud of past generations. Easier said than done but team PR staff need to meet, the rider union should think and before the Tour Down Under a loud message from the sport could help them being asked the same questions all year long. Sorry guys.

Armstrong doping

Armstrong’s uphill task

What’s next?
Part two of the interview. The footage has been spliced with enough explainers and commercial breaks to fit two episodes and I understand the next instalment is about Armstrong’s personal feelings, the charity work with Livestrong and his plans for the future.

Beyond this it’ll be interesting to see where Armstrong goes next. If Oprah’s interviewed him then most other TV outlets are going to want a go too. Armstrong’s said he’d join a Truth and Reconciliation process and it seems WADA and USADA are longing to get a star witness. This will rumble on for some time.

Conclusion
At times last night’s Oprah show felt like a repeat episode from the past. People keep talking about “closure,” first USADA would achieve it, now a public admission would do it. Only each time we’re left with more questions than answers. Cycling’s a resilient sport, the racing starts soon but we can’t escape the old problems until a series of questions get satisfactory answers.

I wrote the other day that Oprah was just the prologue to Armstrong’s redemption. He’s out of the starting hut and the act of going public will probably take some weight of his shoulders but it wasn’t a great performance. He’s come out but it doesn’t feel he’s come clean. Like a rider who loses time in the prologue he’s now got even more ground to make up in his redemption tour.

This race has a big peloton. We can’t just look to Armstrong. We need to ask the others in the sport, from Armstrong’s collaborators to the UCI and then go wider to the media and the pro peloton. Finally let’s leave the last word to Betsy Andreu. Like so many she’s been wronged for years because she was right all along.

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{ 120 comments }

alfons mango January 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm

sharp point with the power data and the files will help but cannot be definiative. he was paying ferrari during his comeback, yes?

The Inner Ring January 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Yes, I gather he was and the USADA files show extensive emails. Ferrari’s case is a separate prosecution that’s of interest to the Italian and Swiss police.

As for the SRM data, sure it’s not definitive but he speaks how the EPO makes such a big difference and it would be interesting to compare the numbers. If he’s in his mid 30s and hitting numbers close to the highscores from his EPO days aged 28 then it’s of interest.

Alex Simmons January 19, 2013 at 3:59 am

Power meter data can also be subjected to “data doping” techniques, and it would require forensic data examination techniques to tease such things out, if at all possible. Some changes are a little more obvious than others (all power meters have their little quirks and data signatures that can tell us if it’s been tampered with), but other changes of significance would be undetectable and can readily fly under the BS radar, much like micro-dosing of EPO.

e.g. I could easily provide two SRM power files from the same ride showing a 5% difference in power output and no-one would be the wiser, nor consider it suspect.

The Inner Ring January 19, 2013 at 10:26 am

Very true. But if we had say, 2,00 files from several years , it’s something else. Of course, he could hack the files and manipulate them but then you could still check time versus speed versus distance against race times and more.

Sheldon Ferguson January 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Although there are legal considerations are at play, the approach does seem to be towards the American (non-cycling) public. But I am sure there are some obligations towards his charity, which is tarnished by his name – I think that might be his route toward redemption. Still there is a lot more to resolve first especially about his actions and the role of the regulators.

TheDude January 19, 2013 at 4:25 am

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”
– H.L. Mencken

James Vaughan January 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I had great hopes for the interview. It was cleverly put together and Armstrong was (predictably) well rehearsed and almost scripted at times. Although Oprah did a reasonable job of interviewing him, it was cleverly managed.

Yes Armstrong used banned substances and processes to gain a competitive advantage – this is well known; but I’d hoped he’d open up and shed light on the inner workings of the team, the cheating and the governing body. In my eyes, the only road to redemption (if that’s even possible) for him, is complete disclosure, complete transparency, blunt honesty. I don’t think USADA or CAS will permit any reduction in the ban without significant contribution and evidence from Lance.

One thing that did stick in my mind after watching, he said that he didn’t cheat after the final tour win in 2005 (evidence suggests otherwise, but that’s an aside). Now a reduction in the ban would be from life to eight years. I don’t know how these things are sanctioned, but if that ban was started on the date of the last offence (so the final day of the tour in 2005), it’d expire this year in July. Somewhat convenient.

The Inner Ring January 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Very good point on the timing of the ban.

Guy H January 18, 2013 at 12:54 pm

But clearly he also wanted to avoid being pinged for something that still falls under the statute of limitations surely? Less than 7 years, means 2009 he just can’t go there. Clever (through gritted teeth).

Cornelius January 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm

But Armstrong raced in 2009 and 2010 so this does not entirely stack up?

Sergio Melo January 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm

The chances of him been allowed to compete in the short/mid term is zero. The case brought just so much public attention that this is impossible.

toe strap January 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Agree with you – the “my comeback was clean” was a key moment for me.
Not sure how strong the evidence against this is tho. All the pre-2005 evidence come from depositions to USADA. The comeback evidence is based on Ashenden opions only – unless anyone wants to correct me (feel free!)
Either way, it seems a clear strategy to limit the damage of a life-time ban and/or law-suits. I doubt we’d see him back in triathlon this July.

JH January 20, 2013 at 10:49 am

Ashenden was not involved. In the interview here http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/07/news/ashenden-understanding-usadas-armstrong-charges_227833 where he explains what the findings might mean, he says

“I want to make it clear that I have not seen Armstrong’s blood values from 2009-2010 to which you refer. I did see the one year’s worth of results that he published online, but those values stopped halfway through 2009. It would seem from the charge letter that USADA have additional data collected through 2010, which to use their words is “fully consistent with blood manipulation”, in particular the use of EPO or blood transfusions.”

So it is other experts that have performed the investigation. And yet others that have ratified it (if I understand the protocol correctly).

Skippy January 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm

With my blogs in http://www.skippyblogging.blogspot.com , you will see the Link back to Mike Ashenden’s article in Oct 2012 ! There were more indications in other articles refering to his return in 2009 .
In addressing Lance , i suggested that he accept the ” tourist class Airline Seat ” offered by Paul Kimmage to attend the ” UCIIC Inquiry into Sport “! Failure to attend will mean he deserves the Life TIME Ban !

Marco January 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Wow, this was one disappointing interview. The first three minutes were tense and hopeful for the rest of the interview, but then Oprah pretty much lost it all. She isn’t a sports journalist, and just wasn’t informed deep enough on the matter. She touched a lot of subjects, but never went deeper when he gave questionable answers. And then she asked questions like: “Was there happiness in winning?”… Come on.

No names, no new facts, no truth finding, a lot of discrepancies in his statements.

What about Motoman? He confirmed stories like that, but later said that they never doped during the Tour? Hamilton said otherwise.
He defended Ferrari big time, but no further questions from Oprah on why, how and when.
No deep questioning on the UCI, while he clearly lied on the subject of the donation.
He stated that he was clean during his comeback, really? Could be, but Ashenden says there were questionable blood values in 2009. No questions from Oprah…
The name of Bruyneel and Verbruggen were not mentioned even once.
Did he really text the wife of Leipheimer with “run don’t walk”? And what did he mean by that?
The matter of the hospital room. Why didn’t he just answer if that happened or not?

And so on and so on.

Lance was total in control and new exactly what to tell and what not. However, what was his goal with this interview? Truthfinding? Forgiveness? Coming clear? Regaining credibility? Doesn’t matter, he failed in every way. This interview doesn’t help neither him or the sport of cycling as a whole.

The Inner Ring January 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I don’t think it was a probing interview but she punched harder than I imagined. I’m not a regular Oprah viewer but was expecting more “how did it feel” questions.

Marco January 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I heard good stories about her ;), so I hoped she understood that the fans weren’t really interested in the “feelings questions”, but were interested in answers on questions like how, how much, when and where.

Well, I probably expected too much.

Guy H January 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm

I had zero expectations so it was better than I thought. I know she was talking to David Walsh and Kimmage, so there was at least hope she’d ask some decent questions, but there was no follow-up, and many things just slid away. It was very disappointing, but then his lack of contrition, and his steely demeanour just made him look as calculating as he ever was. Mea Culpa of the lightest form.

Sam99 January 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I think it is a good first step. No-one expected LA to come out with all the details, and answer all the questions that people have of him. This way, although well managed, at least got a confession out of him and starts the process.

I feel that if the questioning was going to be too difficult that the confession might not have happened so easily.

I look forward to more details like the rest of the readers here.

no one really January 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm

i wonder if some of the info we were all hoping for might be forthcoming in other venues, e.g. USADA/WADA/UCIIC (if it doesn’t dissolve). i’m not sure, from a legal perspective, if Oprah is the proper venue for those disclosures no matter how much we want it to be.

Mary Topping January 18, 2013 at 6:28 pm

I agree. From a big picture view, I don’t think we could have expected a lot with this first go around. One could say that doing the interview was a lot when compared to the alternative of continued silence.

TheDude January 19, 2013 at 4:30 am

I’ve wondered if Levi’s wife might “walk away” from the marriage. Actually, I couldn’t see the pair in the first place. Hamilton’s wife issued him a dump after the long, sorted fairy tale defense of innocence. It seems a similar outcome for Landis. ‘Curious about the Leipheimer story. He has flapped lips too much it seems. Okay, even more tabloid than tabloid interest, eh? :-)

El Tejan January 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I thought I heard LA say he made the donation to the UCI “when he was retired”. Did anybody else? If he did say that, isnt that incorrect? I thought the alleged payments were made in 2002?

Marco January 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Indeed. He wanted to donate in 2002. When the money didn’t come the UCI called, around the Tour 2005?, if and when the money would come. Oprah just missed that… as she missed more.

Guy H January 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm

It was, bar the first few minutes, a bit of a whitewash. Oprah did come up with some zingers, reminding him he’d called Emma O’Reilly a whore, which must’ve really hurt him with that big audience, but it’s really just another qualified ‘admission’, that admits to nothing that’s threatened by the statute of limitations, such as doping in ’09. It’s good to hear such negative reaction from press and public alike, but we’re only halfway through, and I’m hoping he can dig himself a bigger hole.

Interesting he was all over the chance to go to the truth and reconciliation commission. Will the evidence be private? If so, is that another get-out?

The silence, as you say, is deafening, from the peloton, and former riders and team mates. I think cycling today needs a unified voice, or there’ll continue to be association. Much as I love Wiggo and Sky, their silence on matters related to staff and ex-pros now dismissed does them no favours. And I say this as someone that fully believes they and most of the peloton are not doping any more.

Lance can’t be the story indefinitely, and some positive reaction from teams and riders now is desperately needed. I felt for Cav, but those questions won’t stop.

Guy H January 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm

And for the record, Betsy’s interview – what I’ve seen of it – was brilliant. After all these years she’s still not got redemption. Disgusting that Lance still feels he can obfuscate on something anyone would remember (especially given how much detail he’s put in his books).

Salsiccia January 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Agreed on Betsy Andreu. Impassioned, full of conviction and brave. It’s for people like her that he set out to destroy that I feel sorry for, and ardently hope that they are publicly vindicated.

toddbhowman January 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm

+1 for Betsy

OxChris January 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Although we already knew that Lance was doping, it was still quite something to hear it come out of his own mouth finally. Oprah did better than I anticipated, she had clearly done a lot of preparation. Could it have been more hard hitting? Probably. Would I rather watch a two hour interview done by someone like David Walsh or Paul Kimmage (or even our own Mr Inrng, perhaps with 60 Minutes style lighting to not show his face and voice modulation)? Or course, but that wasn’t going to happen was it, this is still Lance after all.

The weirdest part for me is the way he dodged the Betsy Andreu question. That made no sense whatsoever, what does he have to lose that he hasn’t already lost from admitting the hospital incident happened? Why fess up to the Emma O’Reilly stuff but not this? My only guess is legal stuff and he doesn’t want to open himself up to a lawsuit from the Andreus (or perhaps there is already one in the works?) and maybe he’s already come to a settlement with Emma O’Reilly. I’d love to know what was said in the mysterious phone calls Lance said he’d had with them.

Marco January 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm

He protected the woman from Oakley, Stephanie McIlvain, who declared under oath that Lance didn’t sum up all these products in that hospital room. When Lance admitted, she perjured.

Guy H January 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Exactly. And I’m sure there’s part of it that’s just another “f9ck you” to Betsy and Frankie. The comment about not saying she was fat was pathetic, and he’d have come out of that looking particularly bad.

I’m glad Oprah also reminded him of saying she was a whore. That would’ve gone down very badly too. He still didn’t really apologise. But you could spend 90 minutes doing only that.

OxChris January 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Excellent point, I’d forgotten about McIlvain, but that makes perfect sense. I wonder what the statute of limitations for perjury is. Given that many people (Lance included) have committed perjury I wonder if we’ll see any legal consequences…

Steve January 19, 2013 at 1:14 am

You nailed it Marco. I drew the same inference (but it took me a few minutes).

James Vaughan January 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm

One angle that I’ve seen mentioned with regards to the hospital and Betsy Andreu is that there are others who’ve gone under oath to say that it didn’t happen. If Lance were to confess to it (rather than skirt the issue as he did) that would place them in a position of perjury.

Guy H January 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Yep, which Marco above’s nailed. I knew that may be the case, but not who it was.

Chapeau Marco.

The Inner Ring January 18, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Yes, I agree too. Also he protects the medics present in the room too.

Guy H January 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Plus the whole ‘level playing field’. How many other riders could pay Ferrari $1m? And saying a guy that’s banned from all sport for life is a ‘good man’, acutally that says it all. I wish Oprah had said “so you believe he’s a good man, even though he’s now been banned for life?” That would’ve put him on the spot, but so many things like that slipped away.

Dave E January 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Looking back on the bit regarding the money given to the UCI, it starts with Hamilton / Landis and the Tour de Swiss, afterwhich Armstrong says something along the lines of:
“I was retired and they came and asked me for a donation”
But that line suggests he answred a question regarding a second donation, and a question related to the TdS, or was it edited that way??

TeamSpy January 18, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Why is everyone falling for this crap. I feel for Betsy and all the others he dumped on but the bigger questions are getting smothered in this schmaltz.

Why was the Novitsky investigation stopped, Lance and Who stopped it?

JW January 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Oprah asked him this and he said he didn’t know and that trying to stop something like a Federal investigation would be very hard.

I am also disappointed that so much still remains unanswered. Perhaps after tonight there still will be. Oprah is not the right person to perform such an interview. LA answered her questions but she doesn’t have the detailed sporting knowledge to dig as deep as is needed.

SeeingElvis January 18, 2013 at 5:56 pm

JW, that part made me take notice because it felt like one small potentially unscripted moment- I read his comment as, “look, Oprah, we know how to influence investigations… and this was a tough one to influence….”

I think the end was setting up for a Gorgeous George section this evening, which should be interesting. GH squirming, no doubt.

I wish the’d show L.A. chasing Simeoni down, a most amazing disrespect to a sportsman, the sport itself and the yellow jersey. Oprah would not understand the context, though.

Niall January 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm

The fact that the UCI has already commented is interesting. As it stands there is still another whole half of this interview to go. It could still go all Frost/Nixon and have the real pay-off in the closing stages.
The UCI is therefore either incredibly short-sighted or they know exactly, already, what has been said in the second section.

Either way it doesn’t really shine a very good light on them.

Sam99 January 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Either way they are damned, no?

If they didn’t comment, they’d be a portion of the crowd (looking to the UCI as governing body) wondering why they didn’t comment, and slating them for no saying anything.

Marco January 18, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Another thing. I thought that Oprah said that we would get to see the full two and a half hours of material? Because there was too much in it, and she just couldn’t edit too much out?

Well, the thing was clearly edited. And when part 2 is of the same duration of part 1, we miss a half an hour of material…

OxChris January 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I think they might have been commercial television ‘hours’ which only bare a passing resemblance to actual hours, much like marketing megabytes and actual megabytes. 1 TV hour ≈ 42 real minutes.

OxChris January 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I think they might have been commercial television ‘hours’ which only bear a passing resemblance to actual hours, much like marketing megabytes and actual megabytes. 1 TV hour ≈ 42 real minutes.

Oliver January 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm

First off, Oprah is a disgrace. I mean, seriously she rarely followed up, and often didn’t seem to understand what she was talking about. In short, she seemed dumb. Dumb when she said nothing when Lance said he never tested positive during the TdF because he had no dope in his system. Then did he dope or not? Wake up Oprah! I mean the whole thing was surreal! She let that fly even though that was a textbook definition of a lie…

No one should have let him get away with saying he did not dope during his comeback… And more… Bottom line, the guy should be in jail, and his money in the pockets of those he ruined, those he harmed. $100 million will barely be enough.
And instead he’s on a show, trying to make himself look good — and millions of viewers will buy it!

Salsiccia January 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I’m no Oprah fan, but I think you’re being a bit harsh. She’s not a serious journalist, it was obviously very controlled from his side, and you can’t expect her to know all the nuances of all the issues. There’s a very good reason why he chose to speak to her, and that’s not her fault.

SeeingElvis January 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Short of Walsh or someone like that, it would have been interesting to have Diane Sawyer. I think she would have probed a bit more. It is always painful to watch people talk about cycling if they do not understand the lovely layers of nuance, tactics, tradition and etiquette.

The Inner Ring January 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm

It’ll be interesting to see how many buy it. The reaction so far doesn’t look very helpful.

Tom January 18, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Expecting Oprah to be David Walsh is a bit much. She’s not a livelong student of the sport or Lance and only had a few days to prepare. Expecting her to remember and be able to probe all the details while staring down Lance is not reasonable.

Plenty of ‘real’ journalists have done a whole lot less.

Nick Evans January 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Interesting that he doesn’t want to criticise Ferrari. Makes sense, after all, if you’re claiming to have been clean during your comeback, it’s best not to wind up the person who has your “training” records.

Ablindeye January 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet and imagine there could also be a focus in part 2 but was there a lack of questions about, the even worse in my view, mistreatment of those that didn’t co-operate?

Questions about the bullying, the systematic destruction of careers or the financial ruin of people whose only crime was to stand up and tell the truth. The “everyone was at it” argument will always hold some weight with the unaware but not many could accept even a handful of the many tragic stories of mistreatment that are out there. That takes the misdemeanours outside of the sport entirely and everyone can relate to that.

On that note I was pleased to see Nicole Cooke’s opinion wasn’t lost (as you feared on this very blog the other day) and one of the numerous personal tales from her got a brief airing on the BBC this morning.

Ablindeye January 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Ok read the transcript – it touches on the bullying etc. Bit more in part 2 please to get the full sociopathic picture…

Shawn January 18, 2013 at 2:18 pm

One point that I would think even Oprah would be able to follow up on was the repeated claim that he was “no fan of the UCI”. Well, why not Lance? Clearly it’s not because they held his feet to the fire or even refused his money. Is it because their leaders profited hand over fist along with Lance during his reign but are not getting hit now?

SeeingElvis January 18, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Yes, he was totally playing both sides with the “no fan of UCI” comments.

Gear_Ratio January 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Lance was never going to spill all in an interview. *If* he wants to open up, and tell of others’ wrong doings, a TV show is not the place. A TV show may be the place for him to admit his own failings publicly, but a private hearing(s) in front of USADA is how to properly conduct a broader professional investigation.

Salsiccia January 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Exactly. This is all part of a stage-managed attempt at rehabilitation in the eyes of the American public.

Starwasp January 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm

It fascinates me how much this has become personalised.

For one, no one disputes that Armstrong doped in an era when a number of top cyclists received sanctions or have subsequently owned up. For another, its highly unusual for an athlete taking drugs to stand up and confess without some external pressure. So demonising one rider for just being more extreme at it than other people seems to me to be disproportionate.

As for commentators being critical of him for acting in his confession in a manner designed to limit his losses, what rational person would do anything else in his position. Even after pleading ‘guilty’ to a criminal charge, people typically enter a plea for mitigation.

TeamSpy January 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm

“……..demonising one rider for just being more extreme at it than other people seems to me to be disproportionate……”

Frankly the doping is the least of his misdemeanour’s. This is a man who lied, bullied, cheated, humiliated, sued and crushed all through his career. No other sportsman, doper or otherwise has ever gone to the extremes by legal means or foul to discredit anyone who had the courage to stand up against him or try to tell the truth. Its become personalised? trying saying to those he called jealous or crazy bitches and whores.

That’s the whole point, his team wants you to concentrate on the drug taking so that he can also troll out the usual line “everyone did it not just me”.

It’s a great way of distracting you from all the other crap he did.

ave January 18, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I’m sure he is still lying. I don’t know where he might get with all this. I hope that he stays banned for a starter.

btw. I’d love to hear from Phil Liggett now.

The Inner Ring January 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Phil Liggett has been speaking. Sorry but I can’t be bothered to track down the links, he’s confusing at the best of times on this topic. I want to write a preview of the Tour Down Under.

ave January 18, 2013 at 4:28 pm
Guy H January 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm

I still remember after the USADA report came out, Liggett defended him, and whatever he’s said since, I lost all respect I had for him that day, sadly.

Acciaio January 18, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Quotes which rather weaken Phil’s piece:

“He admits that he stopped taking drugs in 2005 when he retired with his seven Tour de France wins.”

“I absolutely believe Alberto Contador won it clean even though he was sanctioned.”

Rolling Blunder January 19, 2013 at 9:00 am

Happy to see Phil to be exposed for having been the paid Armstrong employee/supporter he alegedly is.
http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3672525.htm

TeamSpy January 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I feel a bit sorry for Phil. He’s an honest fan who loves the sport. He’s been duped by more people than just Lance. Dumb and naive maybe, but that’s not a crime.

SeeingElvis January 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Perhaps an honest fan but certainly not an objective one. And I believe Phil and Paul had some investments related to Lance, or at least Lance put some money in Pauls’ mine deal?
Graham Watson was frank about his earnings bump related to Lance. I think Phil, Paul and Bob Roll all just fell in line, singing sweetly from the Lance hymnal.

Tom January 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Jenkins. Sally Jenkins. As a journalist she is still defending Lance because he is her friend.

http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12735

She starts at 27:00.

Maddave January 18, 2013 at 10:05 pm

She is very articulate, and makes some good points about the bigger picture.
“..he could have won without the drugs” – Delusional

Matt Rose January 18, 2013 at 10:56 pm

She starts at 27:00 but the whole interview is definitely worth watching

TheDude January 19, 2013 at 4:37 am

+1
Standard LA modus operandi, spread the money around, without any particular condition, and the benefactors become beholden. Liggett, Sherwin, Watson, Jenkins, Roll, all seem to benefit quite nicely from LA parrot work. I’m sure they will hang on to personal ego rather than plainly admitting to being duped, foolish, or in denial.

Rolling Blunder January 19, 2013 at 9:03 am
Velotoday January 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I believe that we were all looking for more from this interview but keep in mind who the interviewer is and who the target audience is supposed to be. Oprah has a strong national (US) if not international reach with her interviews. Her interviews, well at least this one, seem to be more ‘touchy feely’ and not as in depth as we cycling ‘know it all’s’ expect. I would expect that most folks who read this blog and others are very well informed about cycling as a whole. We watch races, we read about the races/cyclists, we ride with power meters and break every little piece of data down to ensure that we are getting the most fitness out of a ride. We expected more detail.

The topics discussed last night for the most part were not new, so it seemed like bit of a yawner to watch but it was interesting to get Lance’s reaction. What I think would appease the majority of us would for him to name names, provide details, structure, procedures, backers etc. of his doping regime.

It’s possible that the interview was staged but no one here would be able to confirm that. Calculated? I would put money down on this due to the Oprah Effect. Her interviews have the ability to sway public perception is quite remarkable…well, according to Wikipedia. Is it possible that Lance is using this medium to hopefully gain back the people? Possibly.

Let’s hope that he ends up talking to people with authority and independence such as WADA so that we can learn about the past but also look forward to change and new beginnings.

xclc January 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I thought Oprah held her own last night. I too, was expecting a lot of “how did it feel” questions. Instead, she made him squirm, did not let him off the hook when he answered with some verbal skating, and showed him videos of things he said asking for clarification. I’m sure it was a very uncomfortable day for him. It’s like she took this moment to reinvent herself from a host who does puff pieces with movie stars (complete with couch jumping) to a more credible, serious journalist.
I also think she has a lot of insight and can read people quite accurately and that she was not buying anything LA was selling last night.
All said, I think she rose to the occasion.

bobofett3 January 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I was pretty happy with the interview last night. You can go on and on about how he didn’t say anything new, he didn’t go far enough etc. But that fact of the matter is, he did something that we never thought he would do. In no way, shape, or form do I think he was 100% truthful, but this guy has been lying for more than 10 years, I didn’t really expect that. If anyone says that it wasn’t a little bit refreshing hearing him straight up answer yes when Oprah asked his if he doped, they are liars. He definitely still has a long way to go, and I hope he keeps on this path.

Betsy on the other hand, to me, represents what I really hate about this whole thing. Was she hurt by Lance, was she wronged and called dirty names? Of course. That sucks. But guess what, last night wasn’t the “Oprah Mediated Lance Armstrong Apology to Betsy”. To Betsy, its not about cheating, or cycling, or what is fair, it is about her. And last night was not about Betsy, it was about Lance. Lets not forget that even throughout both her and her husband’s holier than thou stances, Freddy doped. Guess what, he still has a job in cycling. And, the whole irony of the whole Betsy fiasco is that more people know who she is now because she got to go on TV and complain how Lance ruined her life.

Guy H January 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Sorry but I think none of us can say she’s unjustified about how she felt. How Lance was to her, attacking her and Frankie about their evidence, both then and now in the USADA Reasoned Decision. Yes, Frankie admitted drug use, but what Lance did to both of them (often via Oakley cronies) is unforgiveable. Having a message saying they hope someone “breaks a baseball bat over your [Betsy's] head” left for you. Is that acceptable? And so much more opprobrium from their both testifying.

And he has a chance, directly, last night, to admit that he was on drugs in 1996, and he just refuses to answer the question (and Oprah, annoyingly, didn’t pursue it at all). I think Betsy is more than justified to say what she did on CNN. She’s been called a crank for years for holding up her side of the story. After the stage-managed nature of Lance’s ‘confession’ anyone that’s been vilified by him deserves every right to come back and say how they feel.

bobofett3 January 18, 2013 at 5:53 pm

I don’t know why, but I just can’t bring myself to feel bad for betsy. Yeah she was screwed, so were a lot of other people. I just don’t feel all that sorry for her though. I feel bad for Emma. I just don’t like the woe is me story. Lance doping is about a lot more than just what he did to Betsy, but she can’t see around that. Whether that is justified or not, I’m not saying. I’m just saying she needs to realize that she is only one of the many who were screwed and she should get over it.

The Inner Ring January 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm

I agree with Anonymous below. This was more than being screwed. She’s suffered for it and her husband has had trouble with his career because of this. It’s got to be hard to live with when you know the truth and speak out only to find a national hero gets very aggressive, whether with lawyers or personal insults.

But let’s not just focus on her, there are many more like O’Reilly, Walsh, Kimmage, LeMond, L’Equipe’s Damien Ressiot and so on.

Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Seriously…..????
Betsy and Frankie have been slandered and libeled for over a decade for TELLING THE TRUTH.
That, and everything he’s done to people like Walsh, Emma, Ballester, etc. is absolutely deplorable.

She has every right to expect an apology in his confession world tour, and every right to be upset when she didn’t get it. Especially after he called them to apologize.

Holier than though stance, indeed………he was denied the opportunity to ride and coach in the sport because of Lance, and for telling the truth.

bobofett3 January 18, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Last time I saw, Freddy, who doped from 94-99, is a DS. And after he retired he worked at Versus doing interviews, with Lance, at the TDF. Like I said, I am not defending Lance’s actions towards the Andreus, what he did to them was horrible. But when Betsy goes on the TV and says “He owed it to me. You owed it me to Lance, and you dropped the ball,” that’s what I disagree with. He didn’t owe it to you. He didn’t owe it to anybody. Depending on if Lance was telling the truth, he has reached out to Betsy, but has been routinely rebuffed by her.

Again, I am not saying that what Lance did to them was okay, I’m not saying that their life has not been adversely affected by Lance. But when you constantly make yourself the victim, and make the story about you, that’s where I have the problem. Like I said, I feel sorry for Emma. Lance hammered her. I dunno, maybe she was on Scotland’s CNN flying off, but from what I heard she is pretty much over everything.

TheDude January 19, 2013 at 4:40 am

Who is Freddy?
..Krueger? Freeloader?
Confused.

Doubter January 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm

bobo, if you think Betsy and Frankie haven’t been harmed by their treatment at the hands of LA, you’ve not been paying attention.

Their lives HAVE been adversely affected. Frankie has been fired from DS jobs because he told the TRUTH when asked, and his career progression has suffered immensely. He could very well have progressed from DS at USPS into another pro tour gig.
Make no mistake, Lance OWES everyone he slandered an apology, Emma, Betsy, Frankie, etc. Not sure where you get off thinking he doesn’t. May I suggest you refrain from further imbibing the koolaid?

Longtime Austinite January 18, 2013 at 4:25 pm

LA’s comment on the UCI asking for a donation stating that he was retired….he gave two donations to the UCI: one in 2002 (not retired) an one in 2005 (retired).

Tom January 18, 2013 at 7:33 pm

The correct term for the $100,000 and $25,000 is not donation, it’s ‘pineapple’.

http://velocitynation.com/content/features/2012/michael-ashenden-armstrong-triangle

Valentino January 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Have you noticed the matching colours of the outfits of Lance and Oprah?
There’s something soothing about the colour purple… It’s a brain colour.

Plus, the boots: I think Lance is wearing the ones that were offered to him at the TDU a few years ago…

That’s it for the fashion chronicle, folks.
And no, I will not mark their dress sense. I will not give my opinion. But I will ask one question: Will they change outift for PART 2 ??? Stay tuned.

Please resume.

Angelo senza la o January 18, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Were you doping in 1993 when you won the road world championship in Oslo in 1993?

David January 19, 2013 at 12:02 am

Not likely, he was just fat from too much pizza and beer ;)

DJ January 18, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Question for the media should not be “. . . probing the sport . . .” It should be “probing sports,” all sports. Clearly cycling has issues with doping, and doping in other sports doesn’t excuse cycling, but why do other pro sports get a free pass? Too big to fail? Too much money at stake in the stick and ball sports? The media needs to step up and hold all pro sports to the same standards. The recent MLB Hall of Fame vote was at least a small step in the right direction, but the media needs to focus more on doping in all pro sports.

no one really January 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm

wish there were “like” buttons here (or maybe not)

Star wasp January 18, 2013 at 7:05 pm

You do wonder. Didn’t Operacion Puerto uncover a whole host of sports people, but only the cyclists got busted?

RG January 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm

I realize that there is some blood data that suggests that he was doping after the comeback but does any part of that data suggest that he wasn’t doping? are their any differences in the blood after the comeback than the blood from when it was confirmed that he was doping? Basically what is the answer if we asked the question the other way around, does any part of the data after the comeback suggest that he wasn’t doping?

JW January 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Even more disturbing is that when LA says “I didn’t have access to anything else that nobody else did” he also claims, and I paraphrase, that he found the training more fun than the actual tour because the win was already “phoned in” or something like that. So for me the question should be: “How could you think the playing field was level (aka everyone was doping or could dope–so everyone had the same chance) when you also say you knew YOU were the one who had the edge?”

Soab January 18, 2013 at 7:22 pm

The Bonnie Ford piece was excellent. Such a contrast to the pathetic piece Rick Reilly wrote yesterday.

ave January 18, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I think he’ll do one more comeback… to Oprah. ;)

52x15 January 18, 2013 at 8:33 pm

I was hopeful that Oprah would ask more about Livestrong, Lance’s work with the cancer charity while he was a rider, and if he used that role to help prop up his empire. Think all of us here know the answer to that, but to me that’s the biggest thing missed last night that hopefully gets addressed tonight.

Tom January 19, 2013 at 12:50 am

I’m surprised Oprah didn’t ask about Zabriskie. That type of human drama is pretty much in her wheelhouse.

bjamin January 18, 2013 at 9:05 pm

I, for one, was neither surprised or nor disappointed with the interview. It’s Lance. He’s not going to whine or cry. He’s not going to perjure himself. And he took the first step – Admission, in a very long road to recovery. I’m more interested in how the UCI will change to combat doping, improve the culture and ensure fair play.

TeamSpy January 18, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Don’t be fooled, the crying will start in Part 2.

Part 1 was the confession and how cruel I’ve been. Part 2 is how me and my family have suffered and I seek redemption. He’s been coached to within an inch of his life.

The Oprah audience expects, nay demands, manly tears

And they’ll get ‘em, don’t you worry about that.

TeamSpy January 18, 2013 at 10:03 pm
no one really January 19, 2013 at 4:27 am

bjamin, and UCI is the bigger fish that must be fried, i’m hoping everything heads in that direction. it will have been a painful journey but a necessary one.

no one really January 18, 2013 at 9:50 pm

velonews did an interview with frankie, it’s very good, class act. give it a read.

Darren January 18, 2013 at 10:40 pm

watching with popcorn!!!
the human race is so entertaining!
just love the current obsession with victim-psych!
lance and johan victims of their ego’s, everyone else
victims of lance…need more popcorn!

Simma January 18, 2013 at 11:46 pm

weak interview, weak questions, weaker answers. in my eyes this was a pathetic puff piece of him only confirming the results of the investigation for a pay day. What’s the point of a “finally coming clean” interview where he just confirms what he’s already been prosecuted and proven guilty for.

Actually thinking about it, this feels pretty insulting and was such a waste of my time staying up to watch it. If his pr team came up with this for his redemption they need firing, because i’m more annoyed today at him than i was a week ago.

Bundle January 19, 2013 at 12:08 am

I can’t help it… Every time I see “Lance Armstrong” written anywhere, I can’t help yawning.

bezza January 19, 2013 at 9:54 am

Now watched them both and I think overall it was as good as it could be expected. I think it all has to be put in context:

1) The show was not an interview of LA for cyclists so I thought there was more detail than expected
2) He admitted it. I know we all knew, but there are a lot of cyclists who have been caught and are still not admitting it or just saying “I made mistakes”
3) If he just went to a tribunal he will not be asked about the damage to people and his foundation and he does want to apologise to them (or says he does)
4) He was well prepared for the interview but are we suggesting he should have gone in unprepared?
5) Look at the people on the podium around him. Did he cheat them? No because they were cheating as well. He also does not use the excuse “everyone was cheating”. We all know that there were some clean cyclists and they were the ones who were cheated.

I have read 7 deadly sins and am horrified by what I read, but if LA comes clean and talks to WADA and USADA then I think he should have a long ban but not lifetime.

Focus now on UCI, for its consistent efforts to put a lid on the story and how we move forward

no one really January 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm

well said, bezza.

fjorthur January 19, 2013 at 10:31 am

People were mad because he did not confess to doping. He confessed to doping and people are mad.
Everything else is already known without asking him.
As far as Oprah, it was not a no holds bad interview.
They framed the question to set the narrative.
Maybe her viewers supported Lance, but they do not support racing.
A waste of time, as long as you care what he says, he still controls the event

David January 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm

George Carlin’s routine on choosing your heros about sums it up for me.

JB January 19, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I am wondering how Johan Bruyneel’s new book is going… Looking forward to it!

lfx January 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I can understand the universal derision that has met the interview from cycling circles in general. However, cycling circles were not the intended audience. To expect the detail on doping methods etc some expected in that forum was an unrealistic expectation. It was always going to be the broad brush. If we are on this forum, there was nothing new, The interview was for the general non cycling public. Having said that, Now that the cat is out of the bag, how do we get the devil in the detail that can help the sport?

The one thing I got from the interview was a sense of opportunity.

Armstrong repeatedly said he wants to come back, and spoke repeatedly about his desire to compete. His hints at being ‘the first one through the door’ at a truth and reconciliation commission, as well as other references during the interview, suggest that if a 5 year ban was dangled in front of him, or the back dated 8 year mentioned earlier in the forum, (it would have to be WADA or some such as i don’t think the UCI brass would be too keen on a fulsome interview), Armstrong would happily spill his guts, name names and procedures and the whole nine, anything to get him back into triathlon or marathon or whatever.

If that was on the table, from my point of view, take it. While giving LA a reduction is repugnant, that would be a time to say cycling is bigger than LA and get the information, by whatever means necessary. There would have to be a ‘if we establish anything you say or deny to be false then the deal is off and you are banned again’ type of arrangement, and it would have to be answers to all the questions, and give up all the names, but I think if the chance was offered to compete again then that might be enough incentive for the full story would come out. LA has never hesitated at throwing others under the bus before to get what he wants, why not use that flaw for the greater good?

In short, while LA deserves a lengthy ban, I find that I don’t care enough to not consider that deal.

Is hearing about LA at Kona or in some marathon worse than the feeling i had watching Vino win the olympics? I hope not, but I’d be willing to find out if we could get the nitty gritty and unearth the cancer on the bones of cycling that is organised and systemic doping.

no one really January 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm

that sums it up for me.

Michael January 20, 2013 at 11:45 am

I too found his comment about a truth and reconciliation commission significant. As I see it, Lance has launched the first part of his redemption campaign on Oprah, but it is only the first part, a PR effort designed to address the Great American Public. He is not going to do the kind of exhaustive detailed confession that could positively aid the sport to get over its drug culture and corporate corruption (but would also implicate other people or expose himself to further legal action) on Oprah. If everybody else is in, then he’s in, but he won’t lead the way.

Tom Knoblauch January 19, 2013 at 8:29 pm

What’s in the box?

Steve Crawford January 19, 2013 at 9:41 pm

The issue for me in terms of the lightweight nature of the interview isn’t the level of cycling-specific detail as some have mentioned above – it’s the fact that Oprah asked some direct questions about doping methods, Andreu, etc and then allowed Lance to dodge the questions entirely. Given the emphasis on the ‘no-holds-barred’ nature of the interview and Lance’s promise to be open and honest, it’s hard to give anything in it any credibility.

That, and the fact that he reminded me of Tony Blair being questioned about Iraq.

Nick January 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

Having seen it, his motives for doing this interview are still hidden. He clearly isn’t telling the whole truth and he is still treating people like Betsy Andreu and Emma O’Reilly with contempt. So why is he doing this? Clearly, he wants to control the message, but is it also possible that by making his doping so public and widely known he will make it impossible to get a fair trial in any future court case? He could now argue this any thus avoid legal action against him in the future. Does this seem plausible?

the lower depths January 20, 2013 at 3:42 pm

having seen both episodes (first time i ever watched Oprah), being fairly familiar with the goings-on, and having digested it for a bit, it became very clear (to me) that Armstrong owned that show … he pulled the strings, she danced. being billed as a “no holds barred, nothing is off limits” tell all interview, very little got told and a lot seemed to be off limits. Oprah had to be one of the worst interviewers ever for this particular assignment.

softball after softball followed by the faux psychoanalytic “and how did that make you feel?” time waster question, no pursuit of answers when LA clearly deflected or outright said “i’m not going to answer that.” to a pointed question that needed an answer. no matter how much she crash coursed cycling, someone with much deeper knowledge was needed here to ask the questions and pursue them.

understandably, it’s more about her ratings as she slides towards irrelevancy on her own network, and understandably, she is not one of the worlds great interviewers (as a mild look into her shows will reveal), but the question haunted me “why did he chose her?” and it became very clear : precisely for those reasons!

she needs the ratings with a healthy plus of being a soft sell interviewer. perfect for the emotional manipulation he wanted. it also was a great “screw you, 60 Minutes!” defiant stance. Lance knew it would have been much more significant to appear in front of any number of news journalists but he also knew they would dog him for answers where she would just sagely nod her head and let it slide.

so that’s the setup, then came the delivery. nothing that wasn’t already pretty clear from the USADA Reasoned Decision was brought up. who supplied what? how was it transferred / delivered? how extensive was the network? what was Bruyneel’s role in all this? what about the possibility of perjury from his previous trial appearance claiming he did not dope? much needed discussion that never happened.

my reaction? it was a good preemptive strike against the upcoming Bruyneel court trial but more importantly, seeing as JB announced a tell all book in the making, i wondered who would get to press first?

overall, we, the fans, learned very little while he, the guilty, kept most things close to his vest … so …
well played Lance … well played …

O'Looney January 23, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Has there been any reports of how much LA was paid for this interview? I heard it was an obscene amount.

The Inner Ring January 23, 2013 at 3:53 pm

I’ve seen statements it was done without payment.

O'Looney January 24, 2013 at 5:51 am

With 30 second commercial spots going for 100k and that fact that it is LA doing the interview, I find it hard to believe that no money exchanged hands.

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