I watched part one of the Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah.
I had Twitter open and I followed #Armstrong amongst other hash tags to get a feel for the real-time reaction of other people watching the interview. Things did not seem to go well for Lance judging by the types of comments people were making.
My own reaction ranged from a profound sense of sadness for Lance Armstrong all the way to an annoyance with his inability to connect with either Oprah or the viewer. He constantly averted his eyes. He seemed unable to show any signs of genuine remorse particularly when he was asked about his harsh and aggressive tactics against people when he was fighting charges of doping.
It seemed to me that he had tried so hard and for so long to avoid this moment, this confession, that he didn’t really know what to do with it when it arrived.
I thought he would start the interview by looking directly into the camera and saying three words: “I am sorry”.
Instead, Oprah started things off by asking for simple Yes or No replies.
Oprah Winfrey: Did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?
Lance Armstrong: “Yes.”
Was one of those banned substances EPO?
Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?
Did you ever use any other banned substances such as testosterone, cortisone or Human Growth Hormone?
In all seven of your Tour de France victories, did you ever take banned substances or blood dope?
Was it humanly possible to win the Tour de France without doping, seven times?
“Not in my opinion. that generation. I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture.”
When Oprah asked him why he was admitting his doping now, his response was insightful:
For 13 years you didn’t just deny it, you brazenly and defiantly denied everything you just admitted just now. So why now admit it?
“That is the best question. It’s the most logical question. I don’t know that I have a great answer. I will start my answer by saying that this is too late. It’s too late for probably most people, and that’s my fault. I viewed this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times, and as you said, it wasn’t as if I just said no and I moved off it.”
I might have missed it in the interview but I did not see a person filled with remorse nor did I see a person that genuinely wanted to make things right. Lance used deception until it was obvious that the overwhelming volume of evidence against him could no longer be denied.
Lance was right. Last night was too late.