Friday 22 November 2019

Naked agenda derailing Texan's shot at redemption

Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong

Tom Cary

He misjudged the public mood when he made his infamous confession on Oprah Winfrey's 'sofa' two years ago. Instead of melting the public's hearts by dissolving into tears as so many of her subjects do, Lance Armstrong hardened them by admitting that he would still be cheating if he had not been caught. He failed to name names, did not apologise for bullying, and came across as cold and lacking empathy.

The question is, is the public any more ready to forgive him now? He is clearly hoping so. After two years in the wilderness, he wants to be allowed to compete again, if only in charity events and triathlons. He wants to rebuild bridges, particularly with his foundation Livestrong. He wants forgiveness. But as ever with the Texan, there is a strategy at play here. And perhaps it is just too naked.

Armstrong (pictured) makes some valid points. He emphasises the lack of consistency in bans for former dopers, stresses he has done everything asked of him in terms of working with cycling's independent reform commission, appeals to the public's sensitivity by saying how hard it has been on him and his children.

The truth is, he might have been better served saying nothing. There was an increasing sense that others were beginning to point these facts out for him. As the months ticked by, and each new doping revelation came to light, more people were beginning to ask these questions on his behalf.

Last year a poll of 12 of the 25 surviving winners of the Tour said they would be in favour of giving him his seven titles back.

By going public like this, his comments cannot help but look pre-prepared.

His admission that he felt the timing of his Oprah interview was "three to six months" too early revealed a strategic brain. He knows the CIRC is due to deliver its report at the end of February and his ban could be reduced.

Will this help or hinder? Going by the initial reaction, it would appear the latter. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Tom Cary

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