8 Important Reactions to Oprah's Lance Armstrong Interview
On Thursday, Sports Illustrated’s David Epstein published an interview with former Armstrong bike mechanic Mike Anderson. Anderson was fired after he found steroids while cleaning his boss’ apartment. Anderson said that Armstrong promised to help him open up a bike shop, and that after the firing he tried to negotiate a deal to make that happen. Armstrong sued Anderson and sent out information to reporters discrediting Anderson as a disgruntled employee. Anderson, who now lives in New Zealand and works at a bike shop, told Epstein that he wouldn’t watch Oprah’s interview with the cyclist.
“Since it's Lance and since I have such a cynical view of him, why would I even bother? I've wasted a lot of mental and emotional energy with that guy for way too long,” said Anderson. “That aside, there's not going to be any real genuine contrition. What's the point? I kind of enjoy getting everyone else's view. I know what he's like. I know he's completely lacking empathy. I know this. I've seen it. I don't think that suddenly he's turned 180 degrees and become a normal human being who thinks and feels like the majority of us do."
In the interview, Armstrong said that he doped. He said that at the time he was doping, he did not think it was wrong or cheating. He did not offer new, detailed information about how he doped or implicate others that were involved. He did not offer a public apology.
Here are the views of eight other people who watched the interview and are connected to Armstrong.
TYLER HAMILTON in VeloNews:
“I think it’s a huge, huge first step for Lance Armstrong,” Hamilton, one of 11 former teammates to testify against the U.S. cycling star, told NBC television’s Today Show.
“For a lot of people, it’s raw. I’ve known about it for a long time, since 1998. Big first step,” said Hamilton, whose 2012 book, The Secret Race, described doping by Armstrong.
“You can tell, it’s real. He’s very emotional and he’s definitely sorry. I don’t know. I think it’s going to be a hard next few weeks for him, next few months, years,” he said. “He did the right thing, finally. And it’s never too late to tell the truth.”
BETSY ANDREU on Anderson Cooper 360, responding to the fact that Armstrong said he would not answer Oprah’s question about whether he admitted to doping while being treated in a hospital room for cancer in 1996:
“You owed it to me, Lance, and you dropped the ball. After what you’ve done to me, what you’ve done to my family, and you couldn’t own up to it? And now we’re supposed to believe you? You had one chance at the truth. This is it.”
“If the hospital room didn’t happen,” Andreu told Cooper, “just say it didn’t happen. But he won’t do it because it did happen. But if this is his way of saying, ‘OK, I don’t want to go there, we’ll give it to her,’ that is not good enough. That is not being transparent. That’s not being completely honest. That’s skirting the issue.”
UCI President PAT MCQUAID via VeloNation:
“Lance Armstrong’s decision finally to
confront his past is an important step forward on the long road to repairing
the damage that has been caused to cycling and to restoring confidence in the
“Lance Armstrong has confirmed there was no collusion or conspiracy between the UCI and Lance Armstrong. There were no positive tests which were covered up and he has confirmed that the donations made to the UCI were to assist in the fight against doping."
“It was disturbing to watch him describe a litany of offenses including, among others, doping throughout his career, leading a team that doped, bullying, consistently lying to everyone, and producing a backdated medical prescription to justify a test result."
“However, Lance Armstrong also rightly said that cycling is a completely different sport today than it was 10 years ago. In particular the UCI's introduction of the biological passport in 2008—the first sports federation to do so—has made a real difference in the fight against doping."
“Finally, we note that Lance Armstrong expressed a wish to participate in a truth and reconciliation process, which we would welcome.”
USADA CEO TRAVIS TYGART in a prepared statement:
"Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit."
"His admission that he doped throughout his career is a small step in the right direction. But if he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities."
“There’s nothing new from my point of view,” Fahey said. “All he did was affirm what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency had put out in a very substantial and irrefutable judgement some months ago—that this man had taken all sorts of substances for performance purposes.
“He denied that until this point, but there was little doubt he was doing that, and all he did was confirm that today in a very controlled manner.”
Fahey was especially damning of Armstrong’s choice of forum to confess, saying he should have appeared under oath at an “appropriate tribunal” where he could be cross examined.
“Where he would have to name names, tell of the officials, the entourage, who supplied the drugs, when, where, and which riders were associated,” Fahey said.
GREG LEMOND in Cycling News:
“I didn’t see the need for redemption, the remorse of someone who is truly sorry,” LeMond said. “I was impressed by Oprah [Winfrey]’s questions, it was the ideal way to see the real Armstrong. It shed a light on him and I think people could see he is not remorseful.”
EMMA O'REILLY to ITV Daybreak, as taken from The Independent:
She said sorry was "not at all" enough after what he put her through, but that she would not be suing him back because she did not want to employ his tactics.
Asked whether she felt vindicated by Armstrong's fall from grace, she said: "All of it has never felt like vindication—I can never think of another word to use, but I hate that word because it suggests almost that there was some vindictiveness."
"I had only ever spoken about it because I hated seeing what some of the riders were going through, because not all the riders were comfortable with cheating as Lance was."
"You could see when they went over to the dark side their personalities change, and I always felt it was an awful shame—these were young lads in the prime of their life having to make this awful decision, kind of living the dream, yet the dream is a nightmare."
"That was always why I had spoken out—it wasn't about Lance, it was about drugs and cycling."
JULIET MACUR of The New York Times:
"But throughout Winfrey’s interview, Armstrong failed to do the one thing many people had been waiting for: he failed to apologize directly to all the people who believed in him, all the cancer survivors and cycling fans who thought his fairy-tale story was true."
"Not once did he look into the camera and say, without qualification, 'I’m sorry.'"
If you missed the first part of the video, you can watch clips on OWN. For a quick summary, read "For Armstrong, a Confession Without Explanation," by Juliet Macur. Follow Outside's ongoing coverage of the interview at "Liveblogging Lance Armstrong on Oprah." To prepare to watch part two of the interview on Friday night, read Bill Gifford's story, "It's Not About the Lab Rats."