Unless you are a pipestrille, hanging head down enjoying your winter’s hibernation in the eves of an enchanted old manor house, by now you might have heard that a well known Texan has finally admitted that he cheated his way to his current estimated net worth of $125mil.
For his narrow minded supporters, the Armstrong and Oprah PR stunt would have created sympathy combined with a glow of pride that he has come now clean. For the rest of us, continued annoyance that he still hasn’t been come close to receiving the proper probing he deserves.
For the audience it was vital that we had an impartial interviewer. But being questioned by a talk show host, who, up until recently knew very little about cycling, meant the result was more Toby Carvery than Raymond Blanc. Heaps of stuff, but not enough quality. Those who are truly interested in the world of cycling just wanted a Paxman interrogation accompanied with the gestures of Theroux.
Having borrowed the blue shirt and jacket worn by Tiger during at his honesty/apology speech of February 2010, LA must have been groomed by the same PR machine. Casual & crossed legged, he attempted to appear relaxed and sincere. He answered the questions he wanted to, spun the ones he needed to and refused to discuss the detail that involved certain named people.
Oprah opened with a series of “yes” or “no” questions where he admitted to the use of EPO, blood transfusions & testosterone. Over the next hour, to her credit, she opened the door to most of the rooms you would expect. In true Tomb Raider style, Oprah went in, banished some demons, but sadly, unlike Lara Croft, left before unearthing any hidden treasure.
His arrogance has not wavered, and whilst he says he apologises for some of his actions, you get the impression that he still doesn’t “get it”. Is he just doing this because out of necessity, or has found a snippets of remorse?
He was very quick to pick up on topics that he believes he has falsely been accused of, such as of being clean in his return to cycling in 2009.
He kept mentioning his lack of love for the UCI and whilst he admitted to donating money to them, he did not pull the trigger. He also failed to implicate any influential individuals in any skullduggery but stated he would assist any future investigations.
The key moment for me, was when he was questioned about the Dublin Masseuse he previously called a “whore” and an “alcoholic”. Emma O’Reilly was employed as a masseuse on the US Postal Service team from 1996-2000. She was a key whistleblower regarding the detail and severity of the doping program. Her evidence, first made public in the book “LA Confidential” focused around an incident relating to a post dated prescription for cortisone cream following a positive test (1999). LA said that she was one of the people he needs to apologise to and confirmed that the backdating of the prescription did in fact occur. When asked if he had taken court action against Emma O’Reilly he couldn’t bring himself to say “Yes”. He arrogantly stated that he didn’t know as they had sued so many people. That to me summed it all up.
One can only hope that tonights revelations in part 2 delve a little deeper and allow the man the opportunity to at least show a hint of genuine remorse towards those further down the food chain whose lives his actions have affected.