Friday, January 18, 2013

My Analysis of the Lance Armstrong-Oprah Winfrey Interview

Photo taken from
I was traveling last night and was unable to watch the interview last night but I read some articles on what happened in Lance Armstrong's interview by Oprah Winfrey including one that gives all his responses on the Wall Street Journal. It's interesting reading for sure. Here are some thoughts:
I was impressed with the types of questions Oprah asked. She didn't seem to hold back much except maybe in not following up with weak responses. Overall, Lance admitted from the start that he not only lied and cheated but that he did some things that are scary. This excerpt from a article is especially powerful:
But right from the start and more than two dozen times during the first of a two-part interview Thursday night with Oprah Winfrey on her OWN network, the disgraced former cycling champion acknowledged what he had lied about repeatedly for years, and what had been one of the worst-kept secrets for the better part of a week: He was the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme on a U.S. Postal Service team that swept him to the top of the podium at the Tour de France time after time. 
"I'm a flawed character," he said. 
Did it feel wrong? 
"No," Armstrong replied. "Scary." 
"Did you feel bad about it?" Winfrey pressed him. 
"No," he said. "Even scarier." 
"Did you feel in any way that you were cheating?" 
"No," Armstrong paused. "Scariest." 
"I went and looked up the definition of cheat," he added a moment later. "And the definition is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field."
Yeah, scary for sure.

When Oprah asks Lance about a few of the many people that he tried to destroy because they told the truth, Lance's responses were also pretty scary in my book. For example, Emma O'Reilly worked for Lance and witnessed him and his team fabricating a lie when Lance failed a doping test for cortisone. The UCI bought the lie and let Lance keep racing in the Tour de France that year and he eventually won. Emma O'Reilly told what she saw and Lance tried to destroy her by suing and defaming her among other things. Consider this from the WSJ transcript:
Oprah is now getting very detailed in her questions, asking about Armstrong's failed test at the 1999 Tour de France for cortisone. Armstrong's doctor produced a backdated cortisone script. His former masseuse, Emma O'Reilly, told this to author David Walsh about the positive test. Armstrong publicly went after her for her actions. 
Oprah asks about O'Reilly. 
"She is one of these people that I have to apologize to," he says. "She's one of these people that got run over." 
Oprah asks if he sued Emma O'Reilly. 
"To be honest Oprah, we sued so many people... I'm sure we did," Armstrong says with a bit of a laugh.
Emma needs an apology?! That's it?! As if he could send a note that read: "I'm sorry Emma. Now we're good right?"

Interestingly, he phrased his comment as: "She's one of these people that got run over." Why not say "She's someone that I ran over." "I" did it. "I" was wrong. Not, "The train I was on wouldn't stop and she got ran over." As if there's nothing that he could have done.

I sense that he hasn't come to grips with what he did to these people. These are the real victims of his fraud. He ran over lots of people including Emma, Betsy, Greg, David and many others including donors to his foundation, sponsors and the racers who wouldn't dope.

I'm sorry Lance but Emma, like the Andreus like the LeMonds like many others need much more than an apology; they need you to try to make things right for them. Maybe that book you're considering writing ought to be dedicated to them and all the other victims of your fraud and you can give the proceeds to them--100% of the proceeds. Maybe you can help them find jobs and print a full-page ad in the major newspapers explaining how wrong you were to destroy their lives in order to enrich yours. Maybe you can sell your house in Maui and Aspen and compensate them with some of your millions for the employment losses they suffered over the past decade. That might be a good beginning to helping make up for the torment you created in their lives for the past decade or so.

This commentary from a WSJ transcript suggests that Lance had a very hard time telling the truth and was likely trying to follow a script that his attorneys and PR team gave to him:
Armstrong's voice is beginning to get shaky in his answers. He is moving about in his chair, and frequently fidgets with his hands. He tends to begin his answers with a short burst of "I'm going to say..." and then lets the words flow freely after he's spoken for a bit.
"I'm going to say" what my attorney told me I should say, let me remember, oh yeah...

Another thing that really troubled me and that made it obvious that Lance is not telling all the truth and that his responses are very calculated was when he just came out and admitted that he didn't want to answer some questions. The one I was most disappointed in was when he was asked about Frankie and Betsy Andreu. This excerpt was recorded on the WSJ transcript:
The show is now introducing Betsy Andreu, wife of his former teammate Frankie Andreu, who testified that Armstrong said he used a litany of drugs during a meeting with his cancer doctors in 1996. Armstrong publicly lashed out at Frankie and Betsy Andreu in the wake of the testimony. 
Oprah asks if Betsy Andreu was telling the truth during the deposition. 
"I'm not going to take that on," he says. I'm laying down on that one." 
Oprah asks if he's made peace with the Andreus. 
"No," he says. "A 40 minute phone conversation isn't going to solve that." 
He says he called Betsy Andreu crazy, he called her a bitch, but he never called her fat. He tries to make light of the situation, but Oprah is not laughing.
This is the most disappointing part of the interview that I read. He won't admit that the Andreus told the truth! Why? He tries to make light of how he treated Betsy?! Absurd!

I'm guessing that Lance refused to admit how he treated Betsy because he either still feels animosity toward her and/or there are more dead bodies in that area. Perhaps admitting she was right will open himself up to legal charges such as perjury that have not passed the statute of limitations. Perhaps he will have to then explain why others were found lying for him, including his doctor. If I was in charge of the federal investigation, these responses where he refuses to admit the truth would be the areas where I'd be looking for more dead bodies.

Another completely disappointing part for me was when Oprah asked him about Floyd Landis. The WSJ transcript explains "He didn't give Landis a spot on the team, which Landis wanted." The transcript continues by saying:
Armstrong says he didn't shun Landis. "He felt like the sport didn't want to take him back," Armstrong says. 
Oprah asks if he regrets his comeback. 
"I do, we wouldn't be sitting here if I came back," he says.
This exchange clearly shows that Lance still longs for his life of lies, fame and fortune. My brother, Dave, put it this way: "It was apparent that's where he would prefer to be, not in the world of honesty and morals, but in the world of who wins at whatever cost."

This exchange colors his whole interview for me. This isn't about getting the truth out and becoming free from the lies as it was for Floyd and Tyler. This is about saying just enough in hopes that he will gain some power back, so he can rebuild his kingdom. It's also about protecting some people still, including himself.

Truth is only a tool to Lance. He uses it when he thinks he'll get something out of it. Otherwise, he uses lies if they will get him more.

After reading these transcripts, I have serious doubts about the truthfulness of many of his responses. For example, do you seriously want me to believe you didn't dope during your comeback attempt? That one is still under the statute of limitations so I would be very surprised if he admitted something like that.

If he's lying about some things, what is he telling the truth about? I doubt, for example, that he told all he knows about the UCI and his donation to them or about his knowledge of why the federal investigation was dropped. I doubt seriously that he is being forthright about how he pressured members of the team to dope. All these people are lying Lance? I'm pretty sure that more dead bodies are buried in these responses.

I conclude that he's still lying about a lot of things. My bottom line is that he lied for so long and so adamantly that he has zero credibility and this interview didn't help his case much for me.

I found this article on NY Times to have a very powerful last line that I'll end with:
But when the questions veered to his behavior toward other people, including friends he betrayed and colleagues he calumniated, he talked about himself almost in the second person, distancing himself from the man he was before the interview took place. 
When Winfrey asked him rather incredulously how he could attack and sue people who he knew were telling the truth, Armstrong described it as a “major flaw” in the character of “a guy who expected to get whatever he wanted, and to control every outcome.” He called that behavior “inexcusable.” 
Yet he admitted that he didn’t feel guilty or torn at the time. “No, that was the scariest part.” Actually, the scariest part was that as he was setting the record straight, he seemed the same as when he was distorting it beyond belief.


  1. Very tragic on many levels. Now what? I'm sure many would like to see if go to jail.

    1. Yep, tragic any way you look at it. I pity him, his kids, his former wife, the people he duped, the people he destroyed in the process, the racers who quit because they didn't want to dope, the cancer victims who were inspired by a lie etc., etc. I don't know what the right consequences are. I'd rather see him lose his spoils and for some of his victims to get compensated than I would like to see him go to jail.

    2. MZ I agree with you here and with you above when you suggested that LA should dedicate his book and proceeds to righting the wrongs.

      Just as I managed to find respect for Floyd Landis after his confession and restitution I would still have great respect for LA if he did an about face and dedicated his life to righting the wrongs.

      Not continuing his foundation for the powers of good like balancing some cosmic Karmic Wheel but actually pounding the pavement and using everything he has to compensate those he specifically wronged while embracing a life of selflessness and humility.

      I think he needs a "Karma Attorney" to guide him on this quest...Now that would make one hell of a reality show!!!

  2. Sociopath???

    A list of traits of a classic sociopth are:

    not learning from experience
    no sense of responsibility
    inability to form meaningful relationships
    inability to control impulses
    lack of moral sense
    chronically antisocial behavior
    no change in behavior after punishment
    emotional immaturity
    lack of guilt

    Sociopaths are most dangerous after they have been rewarded for their behavior. It is one thing to exibit the behavior and it is quite another to be rewarded for it. I would say that this sociopath is even more dangerous now that he has been exposed and dethroned. There really is no telling what he is capable of...time will tell.

    I think if we ask ourselves if we would all be better off or if we would be safer with LA off of the street and in jail...I think the answer would be a qualified Yes.

    1. Yep, he shows all the signs of being a sociopath. Very interesting to see. I must admit that your argument for prison is compelling...

  3. I can find my HS friends house in the Aspen property assessments.

    Same for Jack Nickelsons house.

    I can not find anyone named Lance Armstrong....or Gunderson ...though.

    There is an Armstrong listed as owning a house.....and I think it's his mother. Nothing wrong with buying mom a house, just seems like hiding assets though.