If Lance Armstrong was supposed to be coming clean, why do we feel the need to shower after this?
Maybe the tears will come in Part 2 Friday. But any remorse that viewers might have expected from the disgraced seven-time Tour de France cyclists were not to be found in the opening act of tonight’s 90-minute interview with a surprisingly tenacious-at-times performance by Oprah Winfrey.
But then, coming in with the understanding that Armstrong has made a living on lying that boarders on what some may categorize as socio-pathetic, any admittance of guilt beyond the standard questions of whether he took performance enhancing drugs and bullied former teammates and members of the media since the mid ‘90s came was wishful thinking.
With a calculated stare and occasional nervous laugh, Armstrong stayed in character with his body language and held strong to what he wanted to get out in public – perhaps simply one of those many “character flaws” he also admitted to possessing.
Although admitting at one point that he appeared to be an “arrogant prick” when watching a video of himself from years past, Armstrong was mostly evasive when it seemed as if he might take the moment to shed more light on the hierarchy of how he and teammates doped during races.
Winfrey was the one at the top of the show who explained that this was a mutually agreed upon “no-holds-barred, no conditions, an open field” discussion, taped Monday in an Austin, Tex., hotel room but edited for air some 72 hours later. That may have been her first mistake.
A live sit-down would have made for a far more compelling TV show. But that’s just not how she operates.
Another hour’s worth of probing will come tonight on Winfrey’s OWN channel — including a question teased by Winfrey where she asks what he’s supposed to say to the millions who continue to wear his foundation’s yellow “Livestrong” bracelets as they fight cancer.
Will that be enough to make anyone want to come back for more?
It depends on what you’re looking for.
On a night when Winfrey could not be guilty of acting as sympathetic or going soft, she started with a series of “yes” or “no” questions that got Armstrong to address the elephant in the room, having him immediately admit to taking banned substances and partaking in blood doping.
Winfrey constructed the show by adding many taped segments as points of context to help tell the story of Armstrong’s past, then address that with him for his opinion on what went wrong.
One of the most interesting confessions was when Winfrey confronted him about his bullying, to which Armstrong agreed that he “tried to control the narrative.” In this instance, that was pretty evident he was still trying.
Finally, he did admit to something the audience could agree with: “I’m not the most believable guy right now.”
Part of Armstrong’s bullying admission was a discussion on how he reacted to those who questioned his doping – in particular, Betsy Andreu, the wife of former teammate Frankie Andreu.
Armstrong admitted to having a 40 minute conversation recently with her to clear the air, and saying he did refer to her as “crazy” and a “bitch” but he “never called her fat” as she accused him.
That led to perhaps the best TV of the night after the fact, when Betsy Andreu appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” show and maintained a disgusted look and tone in trying to sum up what she believed after watching the Armstrong interview.
“It’s hard to know what to believe now, you know?” said Andreu, who has testified that Armstrong admitted to cancer doctors in a hospital room in 2006 that he did take performance enhancing drugs.
“Lance can still redeem himself if he will tell the truth, again, one more time, but he’s got to meet with U.S. Anti Doping Agency, meet with WADA and he’s 100 percent honest, truthful, tell them everything because there’s no way he pulled off the biggest fraud in the history of sports by himself.”
Enough people will likely tune in again tonight to see just what kind of honest answers are left in Armstrong’s warped arsenal.
== SportsOnEarth.com’s Will Leitch shows that the numbers don’t lie
== SI’s Austin Murphy, on Betsy Andreu as “an inconvenient woman.”
== USA Today’s Christine Brennan, on Armstrong being less likeable now, if that’s possible.
==The New York Times’ Juliet Macur on how Armstrong reversed his course.
== Was Armstrong compensated for the appearance? “Absolutely not,” he says.
== If Armstrong really wanted credibility, wouldn’t he hold a news conference, wonders Forbes.
== And a tweet from ESPN’s @KirkHerbstreit: No matter how many times Lance prepped for his interview w/ Oprah the 1 thing he couldn’t overcome was how arrogant & pompous he came across