After years of steadfastly denying that he ever did anything to sully the reputation and brand he spent so long cultivating, Lance Armstrong is finally going to come clean about his history with doping in an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey.
According to Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today, the interview will air on Winfrey's network this Thursday and won't provide a lot of specific details.
In the interview, which is scheduled to air Thursday on the Oprah Winfrey Network, the famed cyclist plans to admit to doping throughout his career but probably will not get into great detail about specific cases and events, the person said.
Armstrong told the Associated Press (via SI.com) about the rules and restrictions he has placed on 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.
Despite telling Winfrey that she can ask whatever she wants, Juliet Macur of the New York Times reported that the confession will be "limited" and is not going to "provide much detail."
This whole confession, right down to the person Armstrong chose to have interview him, is nothing more than another calculated move by one of the smartest athletes in the history of professional sports.
Think back four years ago, when Marion Jones was released from a six-month prison sentence after lying to investigators about using performance-enhancing drugs and a check-fraud scam. She decided to give her first post-prison interview to Winfrey.
Rather than try to probe Jones in order to get more information out her than we already knew, Winfrey let her off the hook by asking softball questions that allowed Jones to come off looking more like a victim than anything else.
Armstrong is making the decision to talk to Winfrey because he knows exactly what he is going to get from her. She is someone who wants to be friends with her guests more than get to the heart of the matter like a journalist would.
Unfortunately, that is going to make this whole ordeal feel like a pointless waste of time. Hearing Armstrong say that he did something in a public forum will be a nice change of pace from all the lies we have apparently been fed for the last 13 years.
But what does it really matter if we don't learn anything about Armstrong in the process? If he tries to pass himself off as a victim, and is allowed to by weak questions, is this whole thing really worth anyone's time?
I understand that there probably is only so much that Armstrong can say for legal reasons, though the USA Today report does note that he will not likely face criminal charges for lying under oath in 2005 because the statute of limitations has passed.
This is going to do big ratings for Winfrey's fledgling network, which I suppose is a good thing for her, but it feels a bit like the old tree and forest question. If you do an interview with someone who doesn't tell you anything, does he really speak?
Armstrong wants to use this as a forum to beg for forgiveness, because he has had everything taken away from him. The Livestrong brand that he essentially built is no longer his. He doesn't have his Tour de France titles, nor does he have a future in cycling after being banned for life.
When you are a broken athlete, you do what you can to build yourself back up. The first step in that process is to make yourself look like the victim.
We are going to hear a lot of words from Armstrong this week, though the number of answers we actually get will pale in comparison to the questions that don't get asked.
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