Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Lance Armstrong was broadcast over two nights - Thursday 17th and Friday 18th of January 2013. Oprah flew from Chicago to Austin, Texas to do the interview; she says that Lance Armstrong was ‘ready for it’.
Oprah herself was interviewed on the 15 January by CBS and told an audience of millions around the World that even though there was an agreement between her and Lance Armstrong to wait until the broadcast, by the time Oprah had arrived back in Chicago, media outlets knew that Lance had made his public confession with Oprah.
Oprah: ‘I would say that he did not come clean in a manner that I expected. It was surprising to me and my team… we were mesmerised and riveted by some of his answers. I was well prepared… and walked into the room with 112 questions and in a 2½ hour interview I asked most of those questions. … Certainly it is the biggest interview I’ve ever done in terms of its [World] exposure.’
Part 2 of the interview continues to explore Armstrong’s long history of defiance and deception.
Oprah’s Part 2 Interview with Lance Armstrong - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwefuuiPqs4
Oprah is interviewed on CBS - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPQi8v6uWIs
Oprah: Do you feel disgraced?
Lance Armstrong: Of course….. but… ahhm… [squints]… but I also feel humbled. I feel [pauses] … ahhm… ashamed. Yeah… ahhm… this is… this not good stuff [nods head from side to side].
Interviewer: On October 2012, the US Anti-Doping Agency- known as USADA – stripped Lance Armstrong of his 7 Tour de France wins and banned him from elite competition.
Then came the fall out… for years sponsor’s lined up to associate their brands with cycling’s golden boy – Nike, Anheuser-Busch, Oakley sunglasses and Trek.
Sponsorships had earned him tens of millions of dollars… all cut ties with Lance Armstrong
When his was just 25 years old Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer. Doctors said his chances of survival were less that 50%. Within months of his cancer diagnosis Armstrong started Live Strong to raise cancer awareness and empower cancer survivors.
Less than three years after he beat the odds, he went on to win his first Tour de France [July 1999]. Live Strong became one of the most well-known charities in the country. Lance Armstrong teamed up with Nike to introduce the now iconic yellow Live Strong bracelets. It was a genius stroke that caught on like wildfire around the world. Today 80,000,000 wrist bands have been sold. Some critics challenge Live Strong for spending too much on PR and not enough on cancer research. Others say that Lance Armstrong has used the organisation to deflect any criticism against him. Live strong has raised nearly $US500,000,000 for cancer awareness. Last October Armstrong stepped down as chairman of Live Strong but remained on the Board; in November he severed all ties to Live Strong.
Oprah: [reading from an email] - ‘My prayer to Lance as he faces his demons is that he remembers: ‘It’s not About the Bike [Lance Armstrong’s book]. Are you facing your demons?
Lance Armstrong: Absolutely… [pauses, hand to mouth, looking down] … absolutely. Yeah… ahh… [pause, and chuckles]. It’s a process. And I think, you know, we’re at the beginning of the process.
Oprah: This is the last tape I want you to look at – take a look at this? [9. 07]
Lance Armstrong’s SCA Promotions Deposition, 30 November 2005
Lance Armstrong: ‘If you have a doping offence or you test positive… it goes without saying that you’re fired; from all of your contracts, not just the team. [Rubs nose] But these numerous contracts that I have that would all go away.’
Questioner: ‘Sponsorship agreements for example?’
Lance Armstrong: ‘All of them. And [pauses]… the faith… [pauses] of all the cancer survivors around the world… everything I do ‘off of the bike’ would go away too. And don’t think for a second that I don’t understand that.’
It’s not about money for me! Everything… it’s also about the faith that people put in me for years. So all of that would be erased, so I don’t need it to say in a contract ‘you’re fired if you test positive’; that’s not as important as losing the support of hundreds of millions of people.’
Oprah: And here we are in that moment.
Lance Armstrong: Yeap
Oprah: It feels like self-prophesy almost.
Lance Armstrong: Yeah… it’s… err… [nods head negatively] … it’s … sick. [looks at Oprah sheepishly]
Oprah: When you look at that what do you think?
I don’t like that. When I look at that and I…this guy’s a… [looks at Oprah with hand to mouth] I don’t like that guy. And I… [interrupted]
Oprah: I wanted to ask you my question: Who is that guy? Who IS that guy?
Lance Armstrong: That is a guy… [pauses and nods head from side to side]… who felt invincible; was told he was invincible; truly believed he was invincible. That’s who that guy was.
Ahhm… that guy is still there. I… I not going to lie to you or to the public and say: ‘Oh, I’m in therapy, I feel better’. He’s still there. Does he need to be exiting through this process? Yes. Am I committed to that process? Yes. [11.04]
We talked about the apologies. And I told you that I owe a lot of people apologies… and, and, and… the obvious ones – the ones that we know by name - the Frankie’s, the Betsy’s [Frankie and Betsy Andreu] , the Greg LeMond, the Tyler Hamilton’s, the Floyd Landis’, the Em O’Reilly’s [Maser for Lance]… I owe them apologies. And I… I… whenever they are ready I will give ‘em.
Oprah: Do you owe David Walsh an apology?
Lance Armstrong: [Laughs and smiles] That’s a good question.
Oprah: Do you owe David Walsh an apology… who for 13 years has pursued this story who wrote for The Times and who has now written books about you and this entire process.
Lance Armstrong: I would… I would… I’d apologise to David.
Oprah: [11.43] What do you say to the woman who wrote that email and those millions of people who are wearing Live Strong bracelets. What do you say to all those millions of people who believed?
Lance Armstrong: I say: ‘I understand… you’re… your anger… [pauses and rubs hand] … your sense of betrayal. You supported me forever through all of this and you’ve believed and I lied to you. And I’m sorry.’
And I…. and I will spend…. And I WILL spend… and I’m committed to spending… as long as I have to, to make amends… know full-well I won’t… I won’t get very many back.
Oprah: A lot of people feel you’re doing this interview because you want to come back to the Sport [of cycling]?
Lance Armstrong: If you’re asking me: Do I want to compete again? The answer is: ‘Hell, yes’. I’m a competitor… that’s what I’ve done my whole life. I… I… I love to train; I love to race; I love to toe the line. And I don’t expect it to happen….
Oprah: You want to compete … again… on the bicycle
Lance Armstrong: [Laughs]
Oprah: You want to run races on the bike?
Lance Armstrong: Not the Tour de France, but there’s a lot of other things that I could do but I can’t; with this penalty and with this punishment. Which again I’m… [pause] I made my bed, but if there was ever a window…. Ahh Would I like to run the Chicago marathon when I’m 50? [nods affirmatively]… I would love to do that. … And I can’t.
[14.05] I can’t lie to you. I’d love the opportunity to compete, but that isn’t the reason I’m doing this [interview]. Frankly… [pauses] … this may not be the most popular answer… but I think I deserve it. Maybe not right now, but if you look at this situation and if look at the culture and if you look at the sport… and you see the punishments. That’s what I say if I could go back to that time… it’s OK… you’re trading my story for 6 months suspension [looks at Oprah with an approving face]… that’s what people got.
Oprah: Which is what other people got?
Lance Armstrong: What everybody got. So I got a ‘death penalty’ and they got 6 months… [interrupted]
Oprah: Meaning you can never compete again?
Lance Armstrong: And that not sayin’ that that’s not fair necessarily… I’m sayin’ - it’s different.
Oprah: Do you think you’ve gotten what you deserve?
Lance Armstrong: [Long pause rubs mouth] Ahhm….
Oprah: For a long time you were saying everyone was on the witch hunt… on the witch hunt… on the witch hunt for you. Do you consider at this moment, considering how big you were; what that meant; how much people believed; what your name and brand stood for… yeah all of that.
Lance Armstrong: Yeah, sure, I deserve to be punished… I’m not sure I deserve a ‘death penalty’
Oprah: [15.20] So was it just you being your cocky, arrogant jerk self that did the Tweet with you lying with all of the [Tour de France yellow] jerseys?
Lance Armstrong: Yeah, that was another mistake.
Interviewer: Just weeks after being stripped of all seven of his Tour De France titles and banned from elite cycling for life, Lance Armstrong tweeted this photo of himself in this Austin [Texas] home. “Back in Austin and just layin’ around…” [15.51]
Oprah: What were you doing that for? To…. what, what was that?
Lance Armstrong: That is just, ahh… [pause]… [nods head from side to side]… more defiance. Ahhh…. [pauses]… and you know what’s scary is I actually thought it was a good idea… yeah… at the time.
Oprah: So tell me, when something this gargantuan happens in your life, how has it changed the way you see yourself? … Or has it? Has it changed the way you see yourself?
Lance Armstrong: Not completely… no, this is… this is heavy. And this is messy and this is not something that I can with you and then leave and say: ‘OK; we’re OK’.
Oprah: You mentioned therapy a minute ago, are you doing therapy?
Lance Armstrong: Yeah… and over the course of my life I’ve done it sporadically… and I’m the type of person that needs to not do it sporadically. It needs to be consistently.
I’ve had a messy life… [pause]… that’s no excuse… ahhm… but this is… this is going to be a long process.
Oprah: [17.27] So, do you have remorse… is there real remorse or is there a sense there of ‘I’m sorry I got caught and sorry I had to go through all of this… I wish this hadn’t happened’
Lance Armstrong: Well don’t… [Huffs and pats his legs] …everyone who gets caught is bummed out that they got caught. [Pause]… I am only starting… I mean, I will continue when some more of this comes out; the ripple effects….
Oprah: Are people analysing what you’re saying and why you’re saying it [moves her hand like a pendulum]…
Lance Armstrong: And people are still sitting there today… ahh… that are true believers. They’re going to hear something totally different. So do I have remorse [shakes head in the negative]? Absolutely. Will I continue to, will it grow; will I … [pause]? Absolutely. This is… for me this is just the first step so… ahhm [pause, nods in the negative] again these are my actions, I’ve been [look down and nods in the negative]…. I’m paying the price but I deserve it. [18.18]
Oprah: When something like this happens, what you hope is that it leaves and impression that causes a shift or a change within you. Has that happened with you yet?
Lance Armstrong: [Listening with eyes on Oprah and hand to mouth] I’d be lying to you if… if I said… ahh… that it has. It… it’s… [pause] ahhm… again a keep goin’ to this word and this idea of process. I… I… I got work to do. And it’s… it’s I can’t… There’s not going to be one tectonic shift that says: ‘OK , he’s on it; he’s on his way that good’. [19.11]
Lance Armstrong and his family:
Interviewer: Lance and Kristin Armstrong were divorced after 5 years of marriage; they have three children together 13 year old son, Luke; 11 year old twin daughters Isabel and Grace. Armstrong has two other children with his girlfriend of 5 years now Anna Hansen; 3 year old Max and 2 year old Olivia.
Lance Armstrong: What I was gonna say is, if there is one name it would be Kristin… I mean she was… ahh… she’s a smart lady; she’s extremely spiritual… ahh… she believes in honesty and integrity and truth. She believes that ‘the truth will set you free’.
We believe differently on a lot of things… [pause] She may come at it from a religious standpoint whereas I may not. It doesn’t matter – we have 3 kids together – they deserve the honest truth. They deserve a dad that…. ahh… that is viewed as telling the truth to them; to the public.
Anna has always wanted that. She doesn’t know that whole story back then, because we weren’t together.
Oprah: Was there anybody who knew the whole truth? Have you told anybody the whole truth?
Lance Armstrong: [laughs and rubs his nose; hand to mouth] …. [pause] Yeah… yeah.
Oprah: Let’s go back to Kristin… did? … She was aware of what was going on? [Armstrong gives a slight agreeing nod and says um-um] Had she had conversations with you about… stopping [doping] or getting out… or?
Lance Armstrong: Ahhm… and I asked Kristin… I saw her at the kids’ game 2 day ago and I said: ‘If this comes up… can I talk about this?’ And she said: ‘Yes’. She was not … ahh… you know, she wasn’t that curious. Perhaps she didn’t want to know. She certainly knew… but didn’t, you know, ‘need to know basis’. I guess, maybe I protected her from that.
The thing about her and my doping… and this comeback was… she was the one person that I asked if I could do that [comeback to elite cycling in 2009].
Oprah: If you could comeback?
Lance Armstrong: If I could comeback… yep. I just figured if I’m going to do this… it’s a big decision, I need her blessing. And she said to me: ‘You… you can do it… under one condition that you never cross that line again.’
Oprah: The line of drugs?
Lance Armstrong: Yes, and I said: ‘You got a deal’. And I never would have betrayed that…. with her. It was a serious…. It was a serious ask… it was a serious commitment. She gave me her blessing. If she would have said: ‘No, I don’t like this idea’… I would not have one it. But I gave my word and I … I did stick to it.
On coming back to competing in the Tour in 2009
Oprah: So you came back and you’re willing to… you said to me at the beginning of our conversation here, that you didn’t believe it was possible to win seven [Tours] in a row without doping. So you came back – not gonna dope; not gonna do blood transfusions – and you expected to win still?
Lance Armstrong: [Pause, looks down and nods affirmatively] Yes… [keeps nodding]… yeah… and I, and I… [pause]… because I thought, and I still think, that the [cycling] sport… ahh… was … [pause] very clean [look straight at Oprah]. There really was a major shift in the mid-2000s with the bio-Passport. It really… [interrupted]
Oprah: So you thought you were coming back into a clean sport?
Lance Armstrong: … and a level playing field.
Oprah: … and a level playing field? How was it for you to come in third? You who you loves to win at all cost?
Lance Armstrong: [Laughs, closes his eyes and looks away] I didn’t expect to get third; I expected to win… like I always expected. And I the end I said to myself: ‘You know, [nods in the negative] I just got beat… by two guys that are better’. [23.53]
On 13 year old son, Luke – [eldest child from a previous marriage]
Oprah: You were just talking about [your divorced wife] Kristin – you have three children together. What do you tell Luke? You’ve been fighting this – Luke’s thirteen, you’ve been fighting this thing his entire life. What do you tell Luke? At 13, he’s old enough to know…
Lance Armstrong: They know a lot… they hear it in the hallways, not a lot. Their schools, their class mates have been very supportive. Ahhm… where you lose control with your kids is when they go out of that space – Insta-gram , Facebook, Twitter. Then the feedback comes…
Oprah: But what did you tell him?
Lance Armstrong: Well, look… first I want to tell you what happened. Ahh… when this all really… ahh… started I saw my son defending me and ahh… and saying: ’That’s not true’; ‘What you’re saying about my dad is not true’. And it almost goes to this question of: Why now? [Pause and looks up and rubs face] He can’t…. [pause]…. [looks away]… yeah. [Looks uncomfortable, restless in seat, long pause, most emotional part of the interview this far] … that’s when I knew I had to tell him… [pause] and he’d never asked me. He’d never said: ‘Dad is this true?’ [Looks at Oprah and smiles] He trusted me. [Hand to mouth] And I heard about it in the hallways … [long pause and deep sigh, looks down]….
Oprah: What did you say to him?
Lance Armstrong: [Pause and hand to mouth] Ahh… at that time I didn’t say anything. But that’s the time I knew I had to say something.
Oprah: You heard that he was defending you?
Lance Armstrong: Yeah… to… other kids on Insta-gram reply you know… it gets ugly. Ahh… and then I had to, you know… at that point I decided I have to say something; this is out of control. Ahh… and then I had to have that talk with him… which was… just here over the [Christmas-New Year] holidays.
Oprah: What did you say?
Lance Armstrong: [laughs and pauses] I said: ‘Listen there’s ahh… there’s been a lot of questions about your dad; my career; whether I doped or did not dope. I’ve always denied that and I’ve always been ruthless and defiant about that; you guys have seen that. That’s probably why you trusted me on it.’ [nods in the negative, hand to mouth]… which makes it even sicker.
Ahhm… and I said: ‘I want you to know that it’s true’… [Long pause]… and there was the girls who were eleven – they are twins as you know – and Luke. And they didn’t say much, they didn’t say: ‘But wait, dad’ … [pause]… they just accepted it. And, ahh… [long pause] … I told Luke … [long pause] … I said… ahh… [long pause] … [looks up and then at his fingers]… [long pause, hand to face, and breathing heavily] … I said: ‘Don’t defend me any more’... [long pause] … ‘Don’t’.
Oprah: How did he [Luke] take it?
Lance Armstrong: He’s been remarkably calm, and mature about this. [sniffs] I said: ‘If anybody says anything to you about this… [sniffles, long pause, hand to face] … they are gonna see this [interview]… some kids or somethin’… do not defend me, just say: ’Hey, my dad said he was sorry’. [looks at Oprah tongue out and licks side of mouth]… [pause] He [Luke] said: ‘Ok.’
Oprah: Did he say anything?
Lance Armstrong: He just said: ‘Look, you know, I love you… you’re my dad… this won’t change that.’ [Pause hand to mouth] I’d expected… I don’t know I guess you always expect something, you know, but he was…
Oprah: Defiance? … did you expect defiance?
Lance Armstrong: From him [Luke]?
Oprah: Yeah… Anger? Disappointment?
Lance Armstrong: [Laughs] Thank God he’s more like Kristin than he is like me [nods affirmatively and looks at Oprah]. [29.42]
Oprah:[30.10] Certainly people are discussing… I mean, there’s been a lot of talk: why you are doing it and what you’re going to say; how you’re going to say it. What was your intention or hope that would come out of it?
Lance Armstrong: [Pause, thinks, hand to mouth, looks away] Listen, the biggest hope and intention was the well-being of my children. It really was the older kids who need to not be living with this issue in their lives. That isn’t fair for me to have done to them and I did it. And also for the little ones who have no idea and are 2 and 3 [years olds]. Oprah, obviously they have no idea, but they will learn it. This conversation will live for ever. [31.00] Everything that we do today, that dumb tweet with the yellow jerseys… lives forever. So I gotta get that right for them…. As they enter the, the… you know… depth of their lives. [31.15]
Oprah: [35.58] … are you in a space now where you can… because before obviously that guy wasn’t even aware of what you were going and how that was affecting other people….
Lance Armstrong: No… no… no idea.
Oprah: So in that way that was bully, sociopathic – only obsessed with yourself…
Lance Armstrong: Narcissistic
Oprah: Narcissistic behaviour. You would say that, yeah?
Lance Armstrong: Yeah [nods affirmatively]
Oprah: Are you now in a space as you called former friends associates last night to apologise. Are you not just apologising but you to feel how you shattered other people’s lives? Are you in that space yet?
Lance Armstrong: Yeah… yeah. [Pause looks at Oprah… mouth pressed closed] Yeah. And… ahh… we don’t need that… I don’t need to be back in that place where I can slip like that and take things for granted and abuse privilege.
You know to can back to… if I had a child – one of my kids act… we watched those tapes [together]. If one of my kids acted like that; I’d be apoplectic [definition: enrages, furious, irate, seething, angry, annoyed, beside myself, spitting mad]. [37.20]
Oprah: We all know that when you’re famous people love to see the rise - heroic rise, and they also love to see you stumble and fall. Will you rise again?
Lance Armstrong: I don’t know. I don’t know… I don’t know… I don’t know, what, I don’t know what’s out there. And again I go to this thing…I do not know the outcome here. Ahhm… and I’m getting comfortable with that. That would have driven me crazy… in the past. And I’ve got… getting there and I’ve to get even more there… I don’t know [scratches side of jaw].
I’m deeply sorry for what I did. [Pause] Ahh… I can say that thousands of times… and it may not it may never be enough to get back. You’re asking me if I can comeback from here.
Oprah: More importantly than your come back. I’m not as interested in your ‘come back’ to the Sports world. I’m more interested in what’s going to happen to you – as a man, as a man, as a human being [holds up one finger at Lance]. Are you a better human being today because this happened? Did this help you to become a better human being?
Lance Armstrong: [Nods sideways] Without a doubt… [pause]… without a doubt [looks at Oprah]. And again, ahh… this happened twice in my life; when I was diagnosed [with advanced testicular cancer] I was a better human being after that … and I was a smarter human being after that. And then I lost my way… [interrupted]
Oprah: you lost your way… because you….
Lance Armstrong: …and here is… here is the second time. And it’s easier to sit here and say: ‘I feel different; I feel smarter; I feel like a better man – today’. Ahh… but I can’t lose my way again. And… ahhmm… only I can control that… [pauses] and I’m in no position to make promises. I’m gonna slip up every now and again, but that’s, that’s … that is the biggest challenge for the rest of my life is to… [pause]… is to not slip up again and to not lose sight of what I’ve gotta do.
I had it… and then it just [rolls his hands in circles in front of him] things just got too big… things got too crazy. So… [nods head sideways]… epic challenge.
Oprah: It’s an epic story; what’s the moral to the story?
Lance Armstrong: It’s… it’s… I don’t have a great answer there. I… I can look at what I did… ahhm… [counts them off on his fingers] … cheating to win bike races; lying about it; bullying people. Of course, [looks at Oprah] you’re not supported to do those things; that’s what we teach our children; that’s what… [pauses] that’s the easy thing. There’s a… there’s another moral to this story and ahh… I think it – for me – I’d just think it was about that ride and about losing myself and getting caught up in that… and doing all those things along the way that just enabled that. And then the ultimate crime is, ahh… is the betrayal of these people – that supported me and believed in me – and they got lied to.
Oprah: First of all thank you for trusting me to do this [interview]. You know what I hope the moral to the story is? I hope the moral to the story is what Kristin told you in 2009: the truth will set you free.
Lance Armstrong: Yeah…. [nods and pauses] … yeah. She continues to tell me that.
• Today: ABC1 4 Corners on Lance Armstrong ...