Lance Armstrong Interview

By: Annalise Coronel

After all the buzz and pre-analyzing of Lance Armstrong’s upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey, was this step towards clarification and image restoration truly effective?

The two-part interview that occurred last Thursday and Friday on the OWN network has already received much criticism. Jake Tapper, anchor at CNN, tweets, “This is how bad things have gotten for @lancearmstrong, he obviously cannot even afford a media consultant. #LieStrong.”

Thursday evening was Armstrong’s first public admission to using performance-enhancing drugs during his seven victories at the Tour de France. Preceding the interview, Armstrong was stripped of these titles, banned from competing in the future, asked to step down from the Livestrong charity he had founded, and lost $75 million in sponsorship. The doping allegations have existed for over a decade. Even after the US Anti-Doping Agency report was released, Armstrong continued to deny these allegations, even to friends and family. So why did he choose now to admit his guilt?

The first part of the interview was heavily criticized because it lacked any genuine emotion. Armstrong did not take advantage of this interview. Winfrey is not an actual journalist and she has a less intimidating style of interviewing. Her audience is majority women. It was not a coincidence that this interview was set up, but instead of appealing to emotion and winning back fans, the interview received the opposite reaction. He focused on his confession, explanation of the “doping scheme,” and his reasoning. A goal of the interview was to portray Armstrong as a changed man and improve his credibility. He even says that his comeback in 2009 was without the help of any performance-enhancing drugs. Unfortunately, it is too soon for many to believe Armstrong’s assurances.

Friday’s second part to the interview dealt with more personal heartbreaks, including Armstrong’s lowest moment and admission to his oldest son. Even though Armstrong had to hold back tears at one point, audiences still thought his overall stubborn, proud, and controlling demeanor showed. Armstrong says his lowest moment was when he had to severe ties with the Livestrong charity, which was originally named the Lance Armstrong Foundation. He began this foundation a year after being diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. Since its beginning in 1997, he has helped raise over $500 million for cancer research.

Armstrong continues the interview apologizing for his deception and explaining his resulting punishment. He does not use the word “unfair,” but points out the difference in punishment for him. While others were banned for only six months of competition, Armstrong was the only participant receiving a lifetime ban. Although Armstrong retired from cycling in 2011, he wants to appeal this decision. He hopes to continue his endeavors in triathlons in the future.

The one moment that captured Armstrong’s despair was when he relayed the story involving his thirteen-year old son. His oldest son, Luke, was defending his dad. Armstrong overheard this and replied, “Don’t defend me anymore. Don’t.”

Although the desired outcome of the Oprah Winfrey interview was arguably not achieved, it doesn’t mean everyone will so quickly and permanently change their opinion of Lance Armstrong from hero to villain. It remains questionable just how many other cyclist competitors used performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong is not merely responsible for the most amount of money raised for cancer research, but has been a true inspiration for those battling cancer for fifteen years. Those affected by cancer will not so easily judge him for his mistakes as an athlete, because to them, winning seven consecutive Tour de France titles isn’t his greatest achievement. Armstrong shouldn’t have taken performance-enhancing drugs and lied about it, but wasn’t it his “do-whatever-it-takes-to-win” attitude what helped him beat cancer when he only had a 50 percent chance of survival?

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