Oprah: Armstrong ‘did not come clean in expected way’
BBC Sport – Talk show host Oprah Winfrey has said Lance Armstrong “did not come clean in the way I expected” about claims he used performance-enhancing drugs.
She said she was “mesmerised and riveted” by what the former cyclist, who has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, had to say during their two-and-a-half hour interview.
She said she would leave it to others to decide whether he was contrite. Armstrong, 41, has vehemently denied he took drugs during his cycling career.
He was accused last year by the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) of what it called “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme” the sport had ever seen.
He is now said to be discussing whether to testify against sport officials.
Ms Winfrey told CBS that the interview in his home town of Austin, Texas, was so lengthy that it would be broadcast over two nights, starting on Thursday.
She said she had prepared well and took 112 questions into her interview with him, most of which she got to ask. She said he was “serious and thoughtful”, had prepared well for the interview, and “met the moment”.
“I would say he did not come clean in the manner that I expected,” she told CBS, without giving further details. “It was surprising to me. I would say that for myself, my team, all of us in the room, we were mesmerised and riveted by some of his answers. “I didn’t get all the questions asked, but I think the most important questions and the answers that people around the world have been waiting to hear were answered,” she also said.
Ms Winfrey told CBS that she had agreed with Lance Armstrong and his team that they would not talk about what had been said until the broadcast.
“By the time I left Austin and landed in Chicago, you all had already confirmed it. So I’m like – how did you all do that? We all agreed that we weren’t going to say anything,” she said.
“I’m sitting here now because it’s already been confirmed.”
When asked why Armstrong had agreed to the interview, Ms Winfrey said: “I think he was just ready.”
The interview was recorded just hours after Armstrong apologised to staff at the Livestrong Foundation but stopped short of a full admission of guilt.
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, lost most of his sponsorships and was forced to leave Livestrong after the damning Usada report.
Admitting doping might be a first step into trying to mitigate his lifetime ban from competition. He is also said to be planning to testify against powerful individuals in the world of cycling – though not other cyclists – he will claim knew about or facilitated the doping, sources said.
But an admission of guilt would raise legal issues as well as further backlash from the cycling world and cancer community, in which Armstrong is a prominent figure as a cancer survivor.
The New York Times has reported Armstrong’s supporters are concerned he could face perjury charges if he confesses to using performance-enhancing drugs, because he testified in a 2005 court case that he had never done so.
Former teammate Floyd Landis – who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping – has filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit accusing Armstrong of defrauding the US Postal Service, which sponsored the team to the tune of more than $30m (£18.7m).
The US Department of Justice is considering whether to join the lawsuit against him, reports say, and Armstrong’s lawyers are said to be in negotiations to settle the suit.
The UK’s Sunday Times is already suing Armstrong for up to $1.6m over a libel payment to him in 2004 after the newspaper alleged he had cheated.
And a Texan insurance company is pursuing Armstrong for $11m over insured performance bonuses paid to the American after he claimed his fourth, fifth and sixth Tour de France victories.
Pic – Lance Armstrong admitted doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey (OWNTV)