Major Takeaways from Day 2 of Oprah's Interview with Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong spent Thursday night unweaving over a decade's worth of wicked lies told during his cycling career. He cheated in all seven of his Tour de France championships and lied his way through the entire process.
After such candid (albeit not surprising) admissions, the question that was on everyone's mind before Friday's second portion of the interview was: "What would Armstrong do for an encore?"
Friday's portion of the interview focused far more on the fallout of Armstrong's guilt. It touched on the millions of dollars he lost on sponsorships, his family's reaction to the situation and even his possible return to sanctioned competition.
Armstrong was no longer a man going into the depraved depths of his wrongdoing. Instead, he seemed like someone who was finally realizing the carnage he left in his wake.
With so many choice quotes and subjects broached, Friday evening's portion of the interview may wind up being more noteworthy than the first.
Armstrong "Assumed" Sponsors Would Leave; Losing Livestrong Hit Him Hard
Friday's portion of the interview started with the fallout of Armstrong's descent from grace—most notably how he felt after losing sponsorships.
Once one of the most sought-after athletes there was during his reign atop the cycling world, Armstrong's deals with top-notch companies plummeted when details came out about his doping history.
The first domino to fall was Nike, which has been a longtime partner in the Livestrong Foundation. Once Nike left his side, Armstrong's sponsors left him over the course of a "couple weeks."
When asked whether he was upset about losing his relationships with those companies, Armstrong told Oprah that he "assumed" that day would come eventually (per ESPN's T.J. Quinn):
Lance talking about the calls from sponsors, Nike, Trek, Giro, all dropping him. "In a way I just assumed we'd get to that point."— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) January 19, 2013
What he did not anticipate losing was his affiliation with Livestrong. Started in 1997, the foundation is largely seen as part of what made Armstrong a larger-than-life figure after his battle with testicular cancer.
With more than 80 million bracelets sold and many more millions of dollars raised for cancer research, Armstrong viewed the Livestrong Foundation as his "sixth child." When asked to sever ties completely with the charity he started, Armstrong said that was his "most humbling moment," via BuzzFeed Sports:
#Armstrong calling when he severed ties to Livestrong his "most humbling moment."— BuzzFeed Sports (@BuzzFeedSports) January 19, 2013
David Walsh Deserves an Apology
One of the more critical portions of Armstrong's second interview revolved around Irish sports journalist David Walsh. It was Walsh, along with Pierre Ballester, who wrote L.A. Confidential, a French book that was instrumental in exposing evidence that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs.
As a result of the book, Armstrong sued Walsh for defamation of character and ultimately reached a settlement with The Sunday Times, the journalist's employer. Walsh's is one of many lives Armstrong is viewed to have irreparably harmed by denying using performance-enhancing drugs.
Do you owe David Walsh an apology? Lance laughs, 'that's a good question'. Reluctantly says he does.— Orla Chennaoui (@SkyOrla) January 19, 2013
Lance Wants to Make Comeback to Competition, Thinks He Deserves It
One of the popular theories being bandied about before Armstrong's sit-down with Oprah was that he was doing this to make a return to the cycling world. That perhaps admitting his guilt would lead the International Cycling Union to lift his lifetime ban.
To put it mildly, Armstrong did little to quell that speculation. He told Oprah that he still had the drive to compete, not in the Tour de France, but in other races, including marathons. In fact, when Armstrong spoke about the harshness of his lifetime ban, he wondered aloud whether he deserved "the death penalty," according to Huffington Post Sports' Twitter feed:
"I deserved to be punished. I'm not sure I deserve a death penalty." - Lance— HuffPost Sports (@HuffPostSports) January 19, 2013
The word "deserve" came out of Armstrong's mouth a lot on Friday night. On the subject of returning to sanctioned races, Armstrong not only hopes that he can make a comeback, but he also thinks he deserves a chance (per CNN Breaking News):
Armstrong: "I think I deserve" to someday compete again in sanctioned races."bit.ly/10FOX27— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) January 19, 2013
Armstrong Doesn't Think PED Usage Caused Testicular Cancer
The biggest proverbial elephant remaining in the room after Armstrong's first session with Oprah was whether or not performance-enhancing drugs may have caused his testicular cancer. Though he admitted to using PEDs in the mid-1990s on Thursday, before his cancer diagnosis, the subject was never broached the remainder of the evening.
Well, there's a reason that Oprah is considered the best in the business. She did not waste any time asking Armstrong whether he thought the drugs were a root cause of his diagnosis. According to Rob Harris of the Associated Press, Armstrong replied in the negative and later said that doctors never gave him an indication that would be a root cause:
Armstrong says he "doesn't think" taking performance enhancing drugs caused cancer— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 19, 2013
For those wondering whether Oprah would leave any questions on the table, it was clear from then on that every possible subject would be broached.
Lance Apologizes, Talks How Scandal Affected Family
The emotional apex of Friday evening's portion of the interview came when Armstrong talked about the people he had wronged, particularly his son and mother. In one of the more candid moments of the entire interview, Armstrong talked about one of the biggest driving forces behind him coming clean.
Armstrong spoke about particular instances where his son would defend his father's honor when criticized for taking performance-enhancing drugs. Welling up with tears, Armstrong talked about admitting that he had doped in the past and told his son to tell classmates that he was sorry, per Gordon Farquhar of BBC Radio:
Told his son not to defend him any more. "Just say Hey, my dad says he's sorry."— Gordon Farquhar(@GordonFarquhar) January 19, 2013
Being apologetic was an overarching theme of Armstrong's whole interview with Oprah, but it truly took center stage in the second portion. After telling the story about his son, Armstrong later followed it up about how hard his mother took his admission of guilt. According to CNN's Josh Levs, Armstrong said that his mother was a "wreck" when learning of his deceit:
His mom was a "wreck," Lance Armstrong says. "This has taken a toll on her life."— Josh Levs (@joshlevscnn) January 19, 2013
Here is an exact quote for another one of Armstrong's many apologies on Friday. While many of the emotionally charged moments in the interview's second portion were family-related, Armstrong's apology here was directed toward the viewers at home who had supported him throughout all of the lies (via Kelly O'Donnell of NBC News):
Though much of the reaction to Armstrong's interview on Thursday was negative, he seemed far more candid in the second portion. Nevertheless, one has to wonder whether he will ever be able to do enough to repair his damaged legacy.
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