After years of denial, Lance Armstrong reportedly confessed to using performance enhancing drugs to Oprah Winfrey during a taped interview. Before the interview, Armstrong made an apology to his Livestrong cancer foundation, according to the Associated Press. Cindy Boren writes:
Armstrong apologized for putting Livestrong at risk, but did not address whether he had used performance-enhancing drugs during a career in which he seven times won the Tour de France. He was stripped of those titles and banned for life from competition last fall after a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report determined that he had led a sophisticated doping program.
A survivor of testicular cancer, Armstrong had stepped down as head of the charity he had created after the USADA report became public.
Armstrong, who had denied doping for years, is expected to admit that he was involved in doping during the interview with Winfrey, which will air at 9 p.m. Thursday on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” on OWN and stream on Oprah.com. The interview is being conducted in Armstrong’s hometown of Austin, where Livestrong is located.
During the interview, Oprah said she was surprised by Armstrong’s confession. Liz Clarke writes:
Asked if Lance Armstrong came across as contrite in confessing to having used performance-enhancing drugs during his taped interview on Monday, Oprah Winfrey told “CBS This Morning” that she’d leave that the viewer to decide when the program airs later this week, adding: “I can only say I was satisfied by the answer. . . .
“He did not come clean in the manner I expected,” Oprah said during a segment promoting the interview, which will be aired over two nights on the OWN Network. “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. . . .
“I felt he was thorough. He was serious. He certainly prepared himself for this moment. I would say he met the moment. At the end of it, we both were pretty exhausted.”
In the introduction to Tuesday morning’s segment with Winfrey, CBS reported that Armstrong is in talks with U.S. Justice Department officials about returning a portion of the roughly $35 million that the U.S. Postal Service paid his cycling team in sponsorship dollars. Justice Department officials are weighing whether to join a whistleblower lawsuit that has been filed by former cyclist Floyd Landis alleging that Armstrong defrauded the government by doping, a violation of the Postal Service’s contract with the team.
The deadline for the Justice Department to decide whether to join the suit is Thursday, the day that the first installment of Winfrey’s interview is to air on her OWN Network. As part of his talks with the Justice Department, CBS said, Armstrong has expressed a willingness to testify against others regarding doping activity on the pro cycling tour.
Questions are now arising about whether or not Armstrong’s confession will be enough to redeem his reputation. According to Cindy Boren, here’s what might be next for Armstrong post-Winfrey interview:
Using Oprah — who will also be using Armstrong to boost her network’s ratings, the Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz writes — is only the beginning of the rehabilitation tour of the man who once was one of the world’s most beloved and visible athletes. This is only the first step on a difficult path, one in which and it’s one fraught with difficulty. Armstrong faces a number of lawsuits and his Livestrong cancer charity, inextricably entwined with his personal brand, has taken an an enormous hit.
Armstrong resigned from Livestrong and lost his lucrative sponsorship deals after a U.S.Anti-Doping Agency report resulted in a lifetime ban and the loss of his seven Tour de France titles. Armstrong will follow a lengthy public-relations blueprint with a strategy that USA Today says is “long-term” ...
The logical choice for Step 1 was an interview with Winfrey. After that, it will be easier to separate the myth from the lies.