“Betsy, I called you crazy, I called you a b----, but I never called you fat,” Armstrong said in an insensitive attempt at levity that threw Winfrey for a loop.
Armstrong also hemmed and hawed when asked about testimony from his teammates that he pressured them to use drugs and implied they would be fired if they didn’t “get serious” and follow Dr. Michele Ferrari’s doping regimen.
He said his team’s doping program was not quite the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful” in sports history as the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency declared because East Germany’s was better. You could almost hear his crisis communications experts groaning on that one.
Armstrong said he used to look up the definition of cheating and persuade himself that he was competing on a level playing field because everyone else was cheating, even though he had access to superior doping because of his success and that not all athletes react equally to doping.
He said he got swept up in his “perfect myth,” and copped to “that defiance, that attitude, that arrogance … how can you not watch that clip and say, ‘Look at that arrogant [jerk].’ ”
Oprah’s specials were unrevelatory in that we are all afflicted with Lance fatigue but fascinating in that in between his “I’m a jerk who deserves this” apologies he was still rationalizing and hedging, claiming, for example, he only took small amounts of EPO and was clean in his 2009 comeback.
“I was a bully in the sense that I tried to control the narrative,” Armstrong said in one of his honest insights.
It was not a full confession but no one expects miracles from Armstrong anymore.
Perhaps he will find sincerity on his new, lonely road. For a man who has relied on synthetic enhancement for so long, natural feelings don’t come easy.