The interview that Lance Armstrong gave to Oprah Winfrey was a masterful slice of a never-ending sports-fabulism spectacle, and while it made for good TV at times, it was also nearly infuriating to watch.
The interview that Lance Armstrong gave to Oprah Winfrey was a masterful slice of a never-ending sports-fabulism spectacle, and while it made for good TV at times, it was also nearly infuriating to watch. Armstong didn't say very much about how he got his drugs or who else took them on his teams. And after years of denial, even his admission didn't come across as terribly authentic. Never mind that he was neither contrite nor emotional; when he denied claims by a teammate that he pressured others on the team to use steroids, it was, forgive us, hard to believe.
His explanation was also suspect—that taking steroids amounted to a competitive decision, simply a matter of doing what his competitors were doing. That may sound like one argument for the decriminalization of steroid use in sports, but it's not going to convince anyone in the International Cycling Union. And for his admissions, Armstrong is not going to win much sympathy, especially not from the people he once inspired.
As he admitted, he behaved like a "bully" and a "jerk" and an "arrogant prick," though no one had have to wait for Oprah's interview to learn that. Armstrong wasn't content with simply denying the accusations against him, repeatedly and fervently; when the US Anti Doping Agency's official report emerged last summer, Armstrong wrote about the "outlandish and heinous claims" that "the only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors.”
That was the humanitarian side of Armstrong's fury. He also rampaged against nearly anyone who claimed he had doped, threatening teammates and doling out lawsuits to associates and journalists. As Deadspin wrote in October of the USADA's report, "Variations on the terms 'verbally berated,' 'a living hell' and 'threatening text message' pop up often enough in the report to suggest that Armstrong only pauses in his steroid regimen long enough to intimidate and harrass people that know he has a steroid regimen." In 2006, he won a half-million dollar libel settlement against London's Sunday Times.
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