Oprah Winfrey has finally interviewed Lance Armstrong for the most anticipated doping confession sports has ever seen. Armstrong was stripped of seven Tour de France titles last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a report that outed him as a ruthless competitor that stopped at nothing to win the prestigious race. The two and a half hour long interview conducted by Oprah was held at a downtown Austin hotel today, despite initial reports saying that it would take place at his home. The interview will be aired on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on the OWN Network as well as streamed on Oprah.com. Here’s what you need to know.
1. It’s Official, Lance Armstrong Admitted to Doping
Is anyone actually surprised? An AP source broke the news that Lance Armstrong officially confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France during his career. But what we really want to hear are the dirty details of the whole ordeal. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait until Thursday to get those, but after two and a half hours of interviewing done by Oprah, I don’t think we’ll be disappointed. Armstrong was willing to open up completely to Oprah.
“I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I’ll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That’s all I can say,” Armstrong said.
2. He Apologized to His Cancer Charity Before the Interview
Moments before the interview, Armstrong issued a public apology to his staff members at the Livestrong Foundation, the charity founded by the ex-cyclist in 1997 to fight against cancer. Lance reportedly met with staff members and apologized for several wrongdoings, which induced tears from several members including Armstrong himself. Here’s what the source told the Associated Press.
The person also said Armstrong apologized for letting the staff down and putting Livestrong at risk but he did not make a direct confession to the group about using banned drugs. He said he would try to restore the foundation’s reputation, and urged the group to continue fighting for the charity’s mission of helping cancer patients and their families. After the meeting, Armstrong, his legal team and close advisers gathered at a downtown Austin hotel for the interview.
3. Armstrong Snuck Out of His House Before the Interview to Go For a Run
The interview was originally scheduled to be held at Armstrong’s Austin house so, of course, many local and news crews set up camp outside the home before dawn today. Still, Armstrong managed to sneak away from the house to go on run. He returned home by cutting through a neighbors lawn and hopping a fence–the ultimate obstacle course.
4. He Had his Closest Friends With Him for Support
A group of about 10 of Armstrong’s closest friends and advisers were seen going in and out of Armstrong’s hotel before the taping. His attorneys Tim Herman and Sean Breen, along with Bill Stapleton, Armstrong’s longtime agent, manager and business partner were among them, but all declined to comment.
5. Oprah Tweeted “He Came Ready”
Just wrapped with @lancearmstrongMore than 2 1/2 hours . He came READY!
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 14, 2013
After Oprah concluded the interview with Armstrong, she tweeted, “He came READY!” What exactly is that supposed to mean, Oprah? Can anyone ever truly be ready to admit that their last Tour de France titles were nothing but a huge sham? Well, it sure sounds like the interview went well
6. The Doping Program was the Largest Sports has Ever Seen
USADA chief executive Travis Tygart labeled the doping regimen allegedly carried out by his team that Armstrong once led, “The most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” Tygart said that Armstrong’s team of doctors, coaches and riders were comparable to a “Mafia” that intimidated riders into silently following their illegal methods. Former cyclist Nicole Cooke even stated in an interview with BBC on Monday that she was forced to retire from the sport because of the amount of unethical riders and that she felt pressured to take performance-enhancing drugs, to which she refused.
“When Lance cries on Oprah later this week, and she passes him the tissue, spare a thought for all those genuine people who walked away with no rewards — just shattered dreams. Each one of them is worth a thousand Lances,” Cooke said.
7. He is to Return Taxpayer Money His Team Received
Armstrong is in talks to return a portion of the millions of dollars in taxpayer money his former team, U.S. Postal Service, once received, CBS News reported.
8. Armstrong is May Testify Against Others Involved in Illegal Doping
In an attempt to mitigate his lifetime ban from cycling, Armstrong said he is willing to testify against several officials in the International Cycling Union who knew about his doping and possibly facilitated it.
9. He Tweeted a Photo of Himself with His Tour de France Jerseys
Although Armstrong was stripped of all seven titles for winning the Tour de France, he is obviously still proud of his accomplishments. The ex-cyclist tweeted the above photo of himself lying on his couch under his framed Tour de France jerseys back in November, even after he was shamed for doping. Though, at the time he aggressively refused that the allegations were true.
10. Oprah Will Talk About the Interview on Tuesday
The interview will air on Thursday, but Oprah is scheduled to appear on CBS This Morning on Tuesday to discuss the interview. Are they hyping this interview up or what? Just show it already!