In the second part of his interview with Oprah Winfrey, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong finally had what seemed like a moment of honest emotion. His usual strange detachment cracked when he described telling his 13-year-old son Luke that the doping charges were true. The boy had never asked, had always defended him. “He trusted me,” Armstrong said. After a long pause where he struggled for composure, Armstrong said, “I told Luke, ‘Don’t defend me anymore.’”
The Friday segment of the interview still left many questions unanswered: who knew about his doping? Who had helped him? And it’s still unclear whether he has any genuine self-knowledge. He told Oprah on Friday that when he got the cancer diagnosis, “I was a better human being after that, I was a smarter human being after that.” In the Thursday night segment, though, Armstrong said the cancer had contributed to his bullying, win-at-all costs approach to the sport.
The larger question was why he was coming semi-clean now. Most commentators believe he’s looking to shorten the lifetime ban he received. “Are you asking me if I want to compete again?” he said. “Hell yes.” That suspicion made it hard to feel moved by his apologetic words. “I am deeply sorry for what I did. I can say that thousands of times and it may never be enough… The ultimate crime is the betrayal of these people that supported me and believed in me and they got lied to.” (In fact, they didn’t get lied to. He lied to them.)
“Have you lost everything?” Oprah asked. He replied that he’s lost $75 million in future income.
”Gone,” he said, “and probably never coming back.”
It would be nice if we could say the same about him.