Here are some initial and preliminary reactions to Oprah’s interview of Lance Armstrong.
I was fascinated by the interview from the get go. Oprah asked tough questions. As one would expect, Armstrong looked very uncomfortable through most of it. My response is mixed: he seemed mostly straight with the doping aspects (most of which will come to light anyway). He was much more ambiguous on how he treated people, particularly Betsy Andreu. At times, Armstrong was evasive and maybe Oprah could have pushed harder on some points. But overall, I thought she did a great job.
Some of Armstrong’s responses suggested to me that he was sincerely regretful and contrite: for example, saying unequivocally that the doping was his choice. Other times he shifted to language that deflected his responsibility. He talked about his actions as “flaws” as though they were just things he couldn’t help. He used “we” instead of “I” making it seem less on him. This isn’t surprising to me. Armstrong is a mix—as he said—he is a jerk and a humanitarian. In the interview, he is taking some responsibility but also shirking some of it.
Although it allowed him to side step the question of USADA cooperation, I like the idea of a “truth and reconciliation commission.” Without fear of prosecution, many more athletes might come forward and bring to light just how pervasive doping is.
I’m looking forward to Part 2.