Friday January 11, 2013
Oprah promises tough grilling of Armstrong
WASHINGTON: Lance Armstrong will face a no-holds-barred interview with Oprah Winfrey, her cable TV network promised on Wednesday, as speculation mounted that the cycling icon might finally confess to being a drug cheat.
“Armstrong has no editorial control and no question is off-limits,” Nicole Nichols of Winfrey’s OWN cable TV network told AFP in an email, adding that the disgraced cyclist is getting no payment for the interview.
Nichols also said the 90-minute interview at Armstrong’s home in Austin, Texas – to be aired Jan 17 on the OWN network and online worldwide – “is not live.”
Asked when it would be recorded, she replied: “We are not confirming any further details.”
It will be Armstrong’s first interview since he was stripped in October of his Tour de France titles after the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said he helped orchestrate the most sophisticated doping programme in cycling history.
Late on Wednesday, USADA chief executive Travis Tygart described the sophistication of the doping scheme on “60 Minutes Sports” which included the use of untraceable cell phones, makeup to hide needle marks and an offer of a US$250,000 donation from Armstrong to USADA in 2004.
Among the subjects touched on in the interview was that Armstrong had been tipped off by Martial Saugy, the director of a Swiss drug testing laboratory, about how to beat the EPO test.
“And I asked him ‘Did you give Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel the keys to defeat the E.P.O. test?’ And he nodded his head yes,” Tygart said.
“As far as we are aware it is totally inappropriate to bring an athlete who had a suspicious test and explain to them how the test works.”
Last week, The New York Times reported that Armstrong, 41, was considering publicly admitting that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs, in an apparent bid to return to competitive sport in marathons and triathlons.
The 60 Minutes Sports episode included a tag at the end of the programme, saying Armstrong had met recently with Tygart to explore the idea of a “pathway to redemption.”
While supporters hope the Oprah appearance allows Armstrong to draw a line under the affair and begin his rehabilitation after a very public fall from grace, some in the sport were not happy about the latest development.
British cyclist David Millar expressed concern over what he believes will be Armstrong’s “stage-managed” appearance and said he should be questioned, instead, by an official body.
“Only Lance would get to have his moment of truth, if that’s what it will be, in front of Oprah Winfrey,” said Millar, who served a two-year ban after admitting doping in 2004 and then became a vocal campaigner against drugs in sport. — AFP