I won’t be watching Oprah’s Lance Armstrong interview
Don’t let cycling supercheat Lance Armstrong take you for another ride. This is what he’s no doubt planning to do when he appears on Oprah’s couch in a no-holds-barred interview next week.
Oprah is promising no question will be off-limits, but, interestingly, the interview will not be broadcast in full or live. No doubt Armstrong will be contrite, sincere and regretful. He may even cry.
He may need a few rehearsals to get these emotions down pat.
He will probably blame his reliance on performance-enhancing drugs on his traumatic childhood. We’ll hear of his “secret shame”.
He’ll tearfully say things like: “I didn’t love myself enough to tell the truth” and “I didn’t think I was good enough to win without it”.
And there’s the ever-reliable scapegoat: “I’ve got no one to blame but myself”.
The problem is that a full confession could have serious legal ramifications and even land him in jail.
And so we are less likely to see a real admission of guilt, and more likely to hear generic non-apologies such as: “I know I have hurt a lot of people”.
But there’s one word that I don’t want to hear him say:sorry. It’s just too late for that.
Any apology would be for the wrong reasons; as usual it would all be about Lance, and not at all about the people he’s destroyed by lying about his drug use all these years.
I don’t think he’s really sorry anyway. You don’t spend years and years committing systemic fraud and then suddenly have a change of heart.
He may be sorry for himself. He’s certainly very sorry that his image is trashed and that he’s an international laughing stock.
But I can’t imagine that he’s actually sorry for what he did.
For the record, what he did was not just take a few drugs, but orchestrate what the US Anti-Doping Agency has called the most sophisticated doping program in cycling history.
The fact that an interview by someone of Oprah’s stature is even taking place is a problem because it is giving him more airtime and gravitas than his sorry cheating arse deserves.
However, the tell-all confessional format is a popular and well-worn path for celebrities in need of public absolution.
It’s heavy on emotion and light on fact. The criticism comes in one big hit, allowing the celebrity to tell their side of the story, plead forgiveness and (they hope) move on. The idea is that the audience stops seeing them as cheats, liars and thieves, and instead as merely flawed individuals who say things like: “I’m doing my best to become a better human being”.
Most of it is absolute trash, and more about prolonging a star’s career than true regret.
Armstrong should be quizzed publicly by a judicial body rather than a celebrity billionaire with whom he’s shared recipes and appeared in colour-themed clothing.
Here are a few things Lance Armstrong should say to Oprah, but I’ll bet never will.
“I should not have denied seven other men the career-defining highlight of winning the yellow jersey in the Tour de France.”
“I should not have humiliated, abused and blacklisted journalists who dared to ask me questions about my doping because they only wanted the truth.”
“I will donate every cent I make from now on to paying back the funds fraudulently paid to me.”
“I will use whatever money I have to repay the honest cyclists robbed of prize-money through my cheating.”
And one for SA: “South Australian taxpayers, I should not have accepted millions of your hard-earned money to appear in the Tour Down Under because I wasn’t worth it.”
Finally: “I am a little man with a big ego and a weak mind. I am a fraud and a cheat and a liar. I did it all because I wanted to win at any cost.”
Now that would be an interview worth watching.
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