Like many of you, I took the time to watch Oprah, two nights in a row. (Yes, it’s hard to admit that I watched Oprah. The next thing you know, I’ll be watching the Twilight movies.) [Steady on, there’s no need to commit the ultimate sacrifice – Ed.]
With apologies to George Lucas, here are my thoughts on both parts of the saga.
Doprah 1: A Glimmer of False Hope
This was where Lance was supposed to reveal all his sins and tell the truth, the whole truth, so help me, Fausto Coppi. We expected him to describe how he was going to try to restore balance to the Force by admitting everything, truly apologising and starting to provide a bit of restitution.
We got a Glimmer of False Hope.
Yeah, Lance admitted to blood transfusions, using EPO, human growth hormone, testosterone, cortisone, et cetera, all in the first five minutes. He even confirmed the existence of Motoman! I was impressed with Oprah’s direct questioning up to that point in the programme but then it digressed into a muddled mess of half-truths and typical Lance obfuscation (a.k.a. Semantic Doping):
- He said he hadn’t read Tyler Hamilton’s book. We all called B.S. because we know Lance and all his lawyers have read it. Okay, maybe Lance listened to the audio version while he was on his couch surrounded by those yellow jersey
- He told us he cared for Christian Vande Velde after saying he had lied in his sworn deposition to USADA. Personally, Christian, “I like your word, I like your credibility.”
- He stated he did not dope during Comeback 2.0, even though his blood values said otherwise and blood doping kits were found in a search of Armstrong’s Astana team equipment at the 2009 Tour.
- And finally, refusing to discuss Betsy Andreu’s account of the 1996 hospital incident. I fully understood why Betsy was having an aneurysm on Anderson Cooper. She exclaimed:
If he’s not going to tell the truth. If he can’t say, “Yes, the hospital room happened” then how are we to believe everything else that he’s saying? We’re already questioning him … If it didn’t happen, just say it didn’t happen. But he won’t do it, because it did happen.
This tweet summed up how I felt after watching episode one:
Doprah 2: Revenge of the Cancer Shield
Unfortunately this episode was designed to provide Lance the opportunity to generate public sympathy. Here is how the plot played out:
Lance started by telling Oprah about how much money he’s lost because all his sponsors walked away. Obviously we mere mortals can empathise with having millions of dollars in endorsements … NOT! The funniest part was when Lance described losing $75 million in one day. Oprah didn’t bat an eye. I guess that’s because she spent that much last week on home decor and cupcakes.
He then deployed the Cancer Shield by describing how he was asked to cut ties with Livestrong. He said it was lowest point in the saga. It could have worked because of the number of people affected by cancer but Lance blew it when he showed more remorse about losing his position than disappointing millions of cancer patients and their families.
When asked if the purpose of his confession was so that he can compete in the future, Lance described how he would love to compete in sanctioned endurance events like the Chicago marathon. He described how he had been issued a death sentence and that he was treated differently than those who worked with USADA. My sympathy meter went to negative-20 at this point. Lance was given that opportunity but refused, knowing full well a lifetime ban would be the result.
Finally he talked about dealing with his ex-wife and children. He described interacting with his son Luke and telling him he shouldn’t defend Lance to his friends any longer. This is the only point where I felt sympathy. I felt it for his children. They will have to come to terms with their father’s legacy and it won’t be easy.
The interview ended with Oprah asking Lance what he thought the moral of the story was. He was incapable of answering because right now he has no currency in his moral bank account. So Oprah loaned him an answer and closed with this:
The truth shall set you free.
I just about lost my lunch. Refund please! Hopefully the DVD has an alternate ending.
Oprah and Lance Armstrong
Tim’s initial thoughts
Tim’s final thoughts