IT TOOK precisely one minute and 45 seconds for Lance Armstrong to renounce lies he had maintained belligerently for decades. A doper throughout his seven Tour de France victories, he lied, he bullied and he wasn’t scared of being caught. Admitting to this he was unemotional, not especially contrite, but ultimately guilty as charged. Suddenly a once-was sporting king is a self-confessed fraud.
Not that Armstrong wanted to confess. In a 90-minute interview with the world’s most famous talk-show host, he made it perfectly clear he would have happily kept up the deception if his great con hadn’t been exposed.
In part one of a meticulously stage-managed and highly strategised coming out, Armstrong was confronted with the bluntest questions first. Ensuring there was no room for grey on matters that had never been entirely black and white, he was instructed to give yes-no answers.
Did he ever take banned substances to enhance his cycling performance, Oprah Winfrey asked. Yes.
Did he ever blood dope, use blood booster EPO, cortisone, testosterone, human growth hormone or blood transfusions to enhance his cycling performance? Yes.
Did he use banned substances and blood dope during his seven Tour de France victories? Yes.
Was it humanly possible to win the Tour de France in seven consecutive years without using banned drugs?
Armstrong broke the one-word answer rule on this question, but his response might as well have been no.
”Not in my opinion,” he said.
Then came the extrapolation and reflection – much of it disturbingly deluded, some of it plainly contemptuous – on a litany of sins he committed not only against sport but against everyday people.
”I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times,” he offered.
”The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.