In an emotional address to staff of the Livestrong Foundation, Lance Armstrong said he was sorry for letting them down, putting the foundation at risk, and… that’s about it. In the hours leading up to his much anticipated interview with
hard edged cycling expert feelgood entertainment journalist Oprah Winfrey, there was still no admission that he was a blood doping drug cheat, and it appears unlikely that one will be forthcoming anytime soon.
Like a band-aid fasten to the skin with industrial strength sealant, the Armstrong saga has been peeled back one painful inch at a time to reveal the sordid and corrupt underworld of elite cycling. Many of us hoped Oprah would give us that final cathartic rip but this is appearing less likely. A source within the Armstrong camp told Fox Sports USA that Armstrong was planning to make a limited confession yet Armstrong entered yesterday’s interview (to be screened Thursday night in the US) accompanied by two attorneys and his manager.
The stiffening of defences around Armstrong is at odds with his previous freewheeling and relaxed approach to the interview. “I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I’ll answer the
questions directly, honestly and candidly. That’s all I can say.” Maybe I’m just a bitter cynic, but Armstrong wouldn’t need his crack legal team by his side if he planned on giving candid, honest, and direct answers to Oprah’s questions.
Then there is the issue of possible perjury charges that could reportedly send the disgraced star to prison. Well that’s no entirely true. While there would be legal ramifications to an admission of guilt, it’s unlikely Armstrong would face perjury charges stemming from his sworn testimony in the 2005 arbitration fight because of the statute of limitations. The federal case against him was closed last year. Close but no cigar.
The most realistic legal backlash would come from a current case where London’s Sunday Times newspaper is suing Armstrong to recover the $500 000 (about $A1.6 million with legal costs, etc) they were forced to pay him to settle a libel lawsuit. They’re not entirely confident the truth will come out. If they are going to go down, it will be swinging. They took this full page ad out in the Chicago Tribune ahead of Oprah’s interview.
The interview will screen in the US about 1pm on Friday our time (EDST). Expect mass blogging/streaming/live chat internet hysteria to comence about 1.01pm. I doubt their will be any earth shattering revelations but it will be grimly entertaining watching Armstrong stubbornly refuse to yield. Deny, deny, deny is not an sophisticated defense method, more a war of attrition. An I’ll be damned, if nothing else, Armstrong is committed.
Like Armstrong, I’m surprised at how often I ask myself ‘What would Shaggy do?‘
Picture by Tom Pennington/Getty Images