Our coverage of the first instalment of the Armstrong-Oprah interview has come to a conclusion. But you can now ready expert analysis from experienced cycling journalist Rupert Guinness. We'll also have full live coverage of part two of the interview, starting at 12.30pm AEST Saturday.
The reaction on Twitter is coming thick and fast. No doubt it will continue throughout the weekend. There's this from sports journalist Jacquelin Magnay:
Betsy Andreu responds to Armstrongs claim he never called her fat: "that exchange right there has me furious"— Jacquelin Magnay (@jacquelinmagnay) January 18, 2013
Part one of the most anticipated interview in sport comes to an end. For mine the most telling moments came right at the start when Lance Armstrong simply answered 'yes' to a series of questions from Oprah about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. After years of vehement denials and mounting evidence against the disgraced cyclist, to hear him utter those words himself was telling. Thereafter, he was light on details and basically refused to name names when it came to implicating others. That may still come, but don't hold your breath.
Part one: no tears.
George Hincapie's testimony, which Armstrong says he "doesn't fault" (because his former teammate was under "a lot of pressure") signalled the end game of his defence. Armstrong says his ex-teammate is the most "credible" voice on the whole topic of his cheating and adds that they are still "friends".
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Well .. on to Armstrong's former teammate Floyd Landis, who spilled the beans on him. Armstrong throws it back to his own comeback in 2009. He concedes, after a little forcing by Oprah, that not taking back Landis on to his team after his 2006 doping ban was a "blow off". Can you imagine ... had he taken on Landis would we be where we are today? Would Armstrong have gotten away with it? Quite possibly ... but that is no certainty having seen the strength of the likes of Betsy Andreu, Emma O'Reilly, Paul Kimmage and David Walsh and others who pursued the story or provided the evidence that eventually cracked it .... Interesting that Armstrong says he was getting used to probability that stories would just continue and he would live with it ....
Armstrong reckons he might have got away with cheating if he hadn't come out of retirement. That happened with his appearance at the 2009 Tour Down Under. He "just assumed the stories would continue for a long time”. Floyd Landis's accusations and admissions, he says, were a tipping point.
"We wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't come back," he offered up.
Armstrong looking a little uneasy when asked about the 2001 Tour de Suisse and alleged positive test, he denied it ever happened, or that the laboratory that tested his sample was paid off, or that there was a secret meeting with it. Armstrong is slipping up soon after re: question about donation he made to the world body of cycling, the UCI, for anti-doping, saying he was retired then ... but he made two donations - one in 2005, yes; but an earlier one in May, 2002 when he was still riding. Big turning point in interview follows soon after is when he says former soigneur Emma O'Reilly is one of a number of people he has to apologise for ... Betsy Andreu, the wife of former teammate Frankie Andreu? Well ... he admits they spoke for 40 minutes but won't elaborate.
Except he admits they are not "at peace" when asked ... not surprising considering he admits he called her "crazy", "a bitch" and others things ... but then he denies he called her "fat". Where will this go now??
Armstrong: "They have every right to feel betrayed, and it's my fault. I will spend the rest of my life... some people are gone forever ... but I will spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust from people."
Most interesting that Armstrong has said in his couple of references to cycling's world governing body, the UCI, that he is "no fan of the UCI". He has just denied that his donation to the body was a pay-off to cover up any positive tests.Back to top
We're moving on to the famous testimony from masseuse Emma O'Reilly, who worked closely with Armstrong, about back-dating a prescription to cover up a positive drug test. She was one of key figures who helped blow the lid on the great cover-up. "She is one of these people that I have to apologise to," Armstrong says. "She got ridden over."
As for the way he went after her with regular personal threats. "I was just on the attack," he said.
When they played the 2005 Tour de France podium video and Armstrong gave his "to the cynics" speech ... he looks pretty embarrassed. It was a speech that would come back to bite him in the derriere ... slam dunk. Poignant answer when asked if he felt bad, or wrong about doping - or even bad about it - "no." That is one of the main things about doping ... dopers can reconcile with doping. Talking in hindsight, he is can see that now ... he should. It would be interesting to read the minds of other riders - past and present, clean or dirty to see what their honest take on all this would be. No doubt we will hear soon enough ...
According to Google Trends, Australians are more interested in the Lance Armstrong story than anyone else in the world. Here’s a graph rating searches for ‘Lance Armstrong’ in the past 12 months: Australia is on top. There's also a list of the most common terms searched for linked with his name.
Armstrong can't explain his blatant lying at the end of the 2005 Tour on the stage, when he said he felt sorry for the cynics and those who didn't believe in miracles. He describes it now as "ridiculous" and says he's "definitely embarrassed" by it. He retired the next day. Then goes on to say it didn't feel wrong. And that he didn't feel he was cheating "at the time".
Lance looks uncomfortable now. We're seeing footage of him on the podium after his 2005 Tour win when he espouses the positives of his remarkable story. "Looking at that now, that just looks ridiculous," he said, a little rattled. He even offered this: "That was lame!"Back to top
This is getting sticky re: Michele Ferrari, who was one of the others on the USADA charge sheet that included Armstrong. I reckon he won't want to reveal too much about other people and name names ... or unless there is a massive shift in his mood (or advice) during the interview. He is trying to take his share of blame for now, but we need to hear more about the others. Will this come out in tomorrow's episode?
"That's an arrogant person." Armstrong reflects while looking back on the 2005 footage. Very murky territory we're entering now. That was sworn testimony given eight years ago when his denials to doping were vehement.
Armstrong is wrestling with the question regarding threatening riders with sack if they did not dope. He is starting to pause in his sentences, which when he is at full force he usually doesn't do. He is answering better with shorter answers than ones that need explanation. His hand on his heart actions - are they a subconscious reinforcement of his desire to be seen to be sincere? Talk back to his family upbringing is resuscitating him again. His explanation of being a bully or not is weird ... you are, or not.
We're moving on to his relationship with doctor Michele Ferrari. Footage of his interview from 2005 has just been shown where Armstrong vehemently defends him the doctor. So what now? "Was he the mastermind behind the doping program," Oprah asks .... The answer is so non-committal? "I'm not confortable talking about other people," Lance says.
Armstrong admits he was a "bully" because he tried to "control the narrative".
Leads to discussion about his childhood and growing up in a family of “fighters” who felt their “backs were against the wall”. In my view this won’t go down too well. It’s no excuse.