Oprah Winfrey has confirmed that after years of furious denials and threats Lance Armstrong finally “came clean” over his doping past during their two-and-a-half hour interview, due to be broadcast later this week.
The US TV presenter appeared on CBS This Morning to talk about the interview with Armstrong, which was filmed on Monday in his hometown of Austin, and said that the manner of his confession was “surprising” to her.
She implied that Armstrong, stripped of seven Tour de France titles after a Usada report placed him at the heart of the “most sophisticated doping programme sport has ever seen”, had been more candid than she expected. “He did not come clean in the manner I expected. I was surprised,” said Winfrey, who said that Armstrong was highly prepared and had “certainly prepped himself”.
Winfrey, who said that the interview will now be broadcast over two days rather than one, said she was “satisfied with the answers”. She added: “He was just ready … he met the moment”.
The interview will be aired on Winfrey’s OWN network in the US and the Discovery Channel in the UK and she said it was the biggest she has ever done. “A couple of times he was emotional but emotional doesn’t begin to describe the intensity and the difficulty he had talking about these issues,” she told CBS. Winfrey also said she did not allow Armstrong’s lawyers in the room while they were recording, although he did have a team of people present who would address any issues they had afterwards. She said they had none.
Arrangements were made when Winfrey, who has interviewed Armstrong several times before, met with the disgraced cyclist in Hawaii. She had earlier emailed him when the Usada’s sensational report was published but he was “not ready” to talk at that point.
The interview was moved to a hotel in Austin after the original plan to film at his house had to be changed because news crews had staked it out. Winfrey told CBS she “hand-carried” the interview tapes “in my bag with dog food” and revealed that during a break in filming Armstrong asked: “Will there be a point where you lighten up?”
It is the first time Armstrong has given an interview since he lost his titles, was dropped by sponsors and pilloried by the public for his part in doping conspiracy.