So Lance comes clean. While it was interesting that Oprah started the interview with simple Yes and No questions–was this to help Lance or clear the air of the biggest question first–I was waiting for the deeper questions to see what was going on under the hood in Lance’s heart. Perhaps we’ll get more of these type questions in night two.
As the interview proceeded, here are 5 things to note regarding Lance’s answers and how he communicated.
1. Omerta stands. In Italian, omerta means secret. Cyclist have historically practiced omerta. It is similar to the code of blue in the police force where everything within the force stays in the force. Armstrong refused to name names or even hint at implicating anyone else–even Dr. Ferrari, who is fairly well known to have been a PED supplier. Armstrong always despised those who broke omerta in regards to him, and it appears he will not break it for others.
Some thought he might go with a scorched earth policy, throwing everyone under the bus to make himself look better, or at least to emphasize the “everyone was doing it” mentality.
If he has to testify before USADA under oath, it will be interesting to see if he starts naming others in exchange for a reduced ban which would allow him to resume triathlons again. Or, perhaps his hatred for USADA will override this and he will keep silent.
2. Liar vs. A Lie. Several times in the interview when Lance disagreed with something–such as the claim that he doped in ’09 and ’10 Tour de France–it seemed he wanted to go into the old mode of disparaging the source. You could read the internal battle on his face.
Instead, he would pause, gather himself and call the statement a lie, but not resort to attacking the person’s character. This will hopefully be a developing change in his responses.
3. Lack of emotion. Lance likes control. He stated so in the interview repeatedly. A lot of people who grow up loving control learn to suppress their emotions because feelings are seen as a weakness. Even in his apologies to those he hurt, there appeared to me to be a lack of emotional understanding of what damage he had truly done.
Perhaps, he does possess this contrition and regret and manages to quash it in public. Or possibly because of extended suppression he is emotionally calloused. Just maybe, as he walks out from under the shadows of denial and into sunshine of the truth, he will thaw over time.
4. Parsing. There was a consistent parsing in order to define truth, as when he seemed to justify the things he about Betsy Andreau by saying I called her crazy and a b&$%#, but never fat. Somehow, the fact the she added this claim to his comments, if indeed she did, relegated the two other insults having minimal effect in Lance’s mind. Perhaps from years of being an athlete he thinks calling someone fat is one of the worst things that you can do, and the other two terms aren’t as offensive.
5. Source of pain. Armstrong spoke of a relentless will to win at all costs “wherever that came from.” If you read his life story, it is pretty easy to see where that insatiable desire arose. His father was an alcoholic that created havoc and his step-dad appears to be a militaristic disciplinarian absent of an emotional connection with Lance. His life seems to be centered around showing those two men and himself that he doesn’t really need anyone to be a success and that he is a winner. In his recovery, Armstrong will have to wrestle with these two relationships to gain freedom.
Stay tune for night two this evening……