It has to be one of the most eagerly anticipated interviews in the sporting world in a long time. On Thursday evening, 9pm EST/PST (2am Friday Dinsunited Kingdom time), the Oprah Winfrey Network will transmit an interview with the cycling legend Lance Armstrong. For those of you who’ve been living in a cave for the last 15 years, Armstrong is the cyclist who came back from cancer and went on to win cycling’s most prestigious race, the Tour de France a record 7 consecutive times from 1999 to 2005.
A few months ago I blogged about the news that Lance Armstrong had been labelled a cheat in an official US Anti Doping Agency report. In that blog, I put a link to a radio show (still available here) which had been put together by BBC Radio 5, in which some of the details of the evidence against Armstrong were given. Then, in December I read the book by Tyler Hamilton, entitled The Secret Race. Hamilton is a former teammate of Armstrong on the US Postal Service cycling team. The book gives details of the cheating Armstrong undertook in his racing career. After reading the book, any residual doubt I had that Armstrong had not cheated were gone; the level of detail Hamilton gives in his book of his former teammate’s efforts to dope leaves one in no doubt that the book and its allegations against Armstrong are true.
The Oprah Winfrey interview has, at the time of my writing this, already been recorded. Although the Oprah Winfrey Network is remaining tight-lipped about the details of the interview, Oprah Winfrey has already gone on TV in America and said that some of his answers to her questions were “unexpected“. Rumours have begun that Armstrong does indeed confess to having taken performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career, which even in itself will be a first.
Armstrong has not only repeatedly denied ever having taking performance enhancing drugs, but he has pursued those who imply that he has. This includes journalists, newspapers and other cyclists. One of the questions about how far he will go in his confessions in this TV interview is how many cycling and sporting officials will be implicated in what must have been a sophisticated cover-up. Armstrong was too valuable to cycling to be exposed during his career. Not only did he make millions of dollars personally, but he made professional cycling a rich sport. The feeling is that some high-up officials in both cycling and, possibly, the Olympics’ governing bodies, were part of the effort to make sure his doping remained a secret. It has even been suggested that, if cycling’s governing body is implicated in the cover-up, the Olympics will drop cycling as one of its sports.
The interview will be fascinating viewing, but the next few months should be too as the repercussions of his confessions unfold.