Sunday 21 December 2014

Lance wasn’t really saying sorry, says body-language expert

Ellen Branagh

Published 18/01/2013 | 09:41

17 January, 2013: Cyclist Lance Armstrong is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in Austin, Texas. During the interview Armstrong finally admitted to using performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career. Photo: Reuters

DISGRACED Lance Armstrong's interview was more of an attempt to "reboot" his own status than a full apology, a body language expert said today.

Judi James said Armstrong seemed in control of the long-awaited interview, and did not necessarily show genuine humility for what he had done.

Ms James, who appears as a body language expert on television, including Big Brother's spin-off shows and Strictly Come Dancing, and also presented her own body language series for Channel 5: Naked Celebrity, said although some of the interview appeared convincing, his past lies had been too.

"Considering the pressure of what he had to do, he was incredibly calm, I don't think it looked like a confessional in the way he played it," she said.

"There were no signals of genuine humility at all there.

"He looked very much in control. For me, the key was he used the word control a lot and he used it to define himself.

"I get the feeling that he was very much in control throughout the interview. He even corrected Oprah once, he complimented her as well.

"If you turned the sound down, it was hard to tell who was interviewing who.

"He almost did this for his own benefit so he could get back in control of his life and reboot himself to that strong leadership."

Despite the interview being billed as "no-holds barred", there were clearly some parameters, Ms James said.

"There were clearly moments where he refused to answer questions or said he could not remember.

"Verbally he was a lot more straightforward than the past but there were still moments when he looked uncomfortable and he dodged the questions.

"We didn't get an absolute outpouring of every detail."

She said Armstrong misjudged the situation when he joked about Betsy Andreu, wife of his former team-mate Frankie Andreu, who he admitted calling crazy but joked that he had not called her "fat".

"That was a real tumbleweed moment," Ms James said. "He misjudged it."

On the disgraced cyclist's apparent "upset" that he had been accused of doping in his comeback in the 2009 and 2010 Tours de France, Ms James said: "His purpose should not have been explain that he felt upset, it's not for him to be upset.

"He looked genuine at that point, but there again, if you look back at an interview in 2005, he was very good at performing anger that he had been accused in the first place.

"If this was the first and only performance it would be a lot more convincing if we had not looked back at the performances in the past.

"Yes, he looked convincing, but he has looked convincing when he lied in the past."

She said Armstrong had a key gesture that formed part of his excuse as to why he had lied so vehemently.

"He raised both hands in fists, like a boxer, and said, 'if people push me, I will fight back'," she said.

"That one gesture seemed to be his key excuse for all the lies he told over the years."

The disgraced cyclist's crossed legs were not necessarily a defensive gesture, but one that showed his own status, she said.

"That high-leg gesture, it's often more of a high status thing.

"It's the sort of thing that we keep somebody distant from us because we feel above them.

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