As Oprah Winfrey started her interview with Lance Armstrong in exactly the way the world wanted her to, a smile crept along the face of the man opposite her.
This immediately set the tone for Lance Armstrong’s attitude throughout the first half of the much anticipated event. Here was a man, possibly putting the final nail in the coffin of his sport, and he was smiling and calmly admitting that he had undertaken blood doping and drug taking throughout his career.
How a man, who promised millions of people the very opposite of what he was now admitting, could sit there and unashamedly admit to so much destroyed the little credibility and respect he had left.
This is a man who inspired people all over the world. His was the perfect story of heroism and now he is left sitting in the rubble of the greatest scandal in world sport.
When the rumours of his drug taking first came to light, we wanted to believe him. He was an inspiration to us all, someone coming back from adversity, fighting against all the odds and winning with such humility and acting as a shining light in the dark days of his sport.
But now he has admitted to doping. He admitted to using EPO. He admitted to being the top rung in his team and his organisation of drug running and drug use. He admitted that he was arrogant and a bully.
But he also admitted to not feeling bad about it. He said he had looked up the word ‘cheat’ in the dictionary and he felt it didn’t apply to him.
He admitted he lied and should have said things differently in the disposition where he defended Dr Michele Ferrari and his involvement with blood doping.
When asked, he said that his fate was sealed after George Hincapie, his close friend and teammate throughout his seven Tour wins, testified against him. It was only then that Armstrong, with nowhere else to turn and with no one left on his team, came clean.
This proved that Armstrong was not going to come clean on his own account. It’s no surprise Armstrong has now admitted to doping. We had heard that he had used performance enhancing drugs from almost everyone he had come into contact with in his professional life.
There was no shock in the material of the interview but there was shock in the way it was delivered. So calm. Seemingly unashamed and even though he now says he would change things, at the time he said he didn’t feel bad about his actions.
He disregarded former teammate Tyler Hamilton’s admissions Armstrong had help from UCI in covering up a failed drug test. This still leaves unanswered questions, as either Armstrong or Hamilton is lying.
He continued to laugh and smile his way through interview. “We sued so many people, I don’t even remember,” he smirked at one stage.
His arrogance was still on show. He repeatedly said how he had to fight if anyone threatened his reputation. He said he abused his power and disrespected the rules and said he was sorry.
But he never really apologised for the irreparable damage he has done to the sport he says he loves.
To top it off, he said he was only beginning to understand what he’s done. It’s inconceivable that a man can set himself up in such a bubble of trying to convince himself and everyone else that he was right.
He made himself believe if he fought what everyone said, eventually the stories would go away. But people were not going to let this go. “I tried to control the narrative,” he said at one stage.
But he was never going to be able to control this, despite his best attempts of suing people who doubted him and by swearing he had never undertaken doping.
We were all the victims in this. We were betrayed. The people who benefit from his Livestrong charity were betrayed and lied to. These people, battling every day against the odds, saw Armstrong as almost their God. Living proof that recovery was possible and that you could become bigger and better than you had ever been.
How Armstrong lives with that knowledge is something that will hopefully be brought up in part two of the interview.
For now though, Lance Armstrong is a disgrace to his sport. While many of his generation also undertook blood doping and some probably on a bigger scale and more frequently than he did, none fought to the extent that Armstrong did to prove otherwise.
His reputation, and that of his sport, is in tatters and we wait for part two of this interview and any more admissions that he makes.