The Lance Armstrong Doping Interview: Armstrong Comes Clean?
It was whispered about for years, and then investigated in earnest by the world’s leading anti-doping agencies, and now the truth is finally coming out: Lance Armstrong enjoyed a storied and impressive cycling career thanks to the use of performance enhancing drugs. It’s a sad testimony to our times and the burden placed on athletes that Armstrong so adamantly denied the doping allegations for so many years, even as the evidence mounted and friends and former teammates turned on him. Now, thanks to an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the real story is coming out, direct from the athlete’s mouth.
In light of the massive and thorough report on Armstrong’s doping released by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in October, and the unrelenting media scrutiny of the unfolding drama, not to mention the stripping of Armstrong’s seven Tour de France titles and his lifetime ban from the sport of cycling, it was only a matter of time before Lance Armstrong was forced to speak on his own behalf. That he chose to do it in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in a two-part special to air on her OWN network left many scratching their heads. It was a long, slow fall from grace for one of the world’s most well known athletes, and although Armstrong consistently denied using any performance enhancing drugs throughout his career and repeatedly passed the drug tests given to him, the information gathered against him just became too overwhelming to deny any longer. In fact, Armstrong stopped fighting the charges leveled against him just before the USADA report was released, making it easy to conclude that he hadn’t been entirely truthful about his use of human growth hormone, anabolic steroids, blood transfusions and other forms of doping.
The Oprah interview brings to light how far even great athletes will go to cover up the use of performance enhancing drugs, and how deep the problem goes. Armstrong admitted to doping, but only until 2005, even though some evidence points to blood transfusions as late as 2009, and he vehemently denied that he bullied or threatened others to dope or who wanted to expose his doping regimen. However, many of Armstrong’s former teammates and acquaintances have spoken out, and there exists a track record of litigation initiated by Armstrong against anyone who dared to speak up against him. Armstrong’s explanation during the interview that his teammates doped because of his example, rather than any strong arm verbal tactics, already have many furious at the former cycling superstar. It seems Armstrong’s desperation to hold on to his fairytale career cost him the caring and respect of even those closest to him.
The motivation behind Armstrong’s decision to sit down to an interview with Oprah is unclear, especially since the reaction to the interview in the media and in the court of public opinion has ranged from disgust to “so what” shoulder shrugging. For a man who has lost so much: his titles, his Olympic medal, his participation in the sport he supposedly loved, $75 million in sponsorships, and the leadership role in his Livestrong foundation, it seems he still has a long way to go before he can overcome the fallout from his decision to illegally dope and live a life of lies.