Lance Armstrong is set to ‘confess all’ when he gives one of the world’s most anticipated interviews to Oprah… from the comfort of his mansion in Austin Texas. Swide chooses some memorable Oprah interviews with disgraced athletes.
Oprah’s couch has long been the snuggly, needy, comfy salon of tears and public confessions, a place where a disgraced celebrity can ‘open up’ with some perfectly stage-managed running mascara.
After 15 years of vehement denials, people reportedly close to the Texan have he made a full confession on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s ‘Oprah Next Chapter’, (January 17 9pm Pacific Time, January 18 3 am CET). It is a coup for Oprah and a masterstroke by the former Tour de France winner. Dressed up as a ‘hard-hitting’ tell-all interview Armstrong, a master truth-evader will answer questions about his alleged doping offenses and other shocking allegations made against him in a US Anti-Doping Agency report.
Rather than go on ESPN or talk to the sports journalists who jeopardised their careers and personal finances by bravely and doggedly hunting him down over ten years Armstrong has chosen to ‘open up’ to Oprah, who, experienced and interviewer as she is, has made a career of giving people the opportunity to ‘heal’ and have second chances. Oprah’s audience is inherently forgiving, and if Armstrong can play it right, it may be the first step on the long road to the rehabilitation of his public image.
Conducting the interview hours after calling a staff meeting at the Livestrong foundation’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, the founder declaring to his staff: “I’m sorry.”
With his emotions getting the better of him during a 20-minute talk, he expressed regret for the controversy over performance-enhancing drugs and its negative effects on the work of the foundation. He has reserved his confession however, for the Oprah interview. But that didn’t stop the tears from flowing when he urged them to continue the charity’s mission of helping cancer patients and their families. Armstrong later huddled with almost a dozen people before disappearing into a hotel room.
Whatever you think about Lance Armstrong, he’s no quitter. He has full and absolute faith in himself and if your experiences have taught us anything, is that in time, even those who have fallen lowest may yet find redemption. Here are some Oprah interviews of disgraced former athletes.
After spending 6 months in prison for perjury, for lying to federal investigators as part of the infamous BALCO investigation into performance -enhancing drugs in sport. Oprah gave her an easy ride throughout the interview allowing her to convey her deception as something that happened on the spur of the moment rather than a sustained and impressively effective stance of denial over years. She also repeatedly declares that she was ‘given’ the substance and denies that she knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs with the intention of cheating, instead saying she thought she was taking ‘supplements’.
After biting Evander Holyfield’s ear in the Heavyweight title fight, Mike Tyson was so vilified in the world’s press that nobody would ever have considered that he could rehabilitate his public image. Yet even after serving 3 years for rape, today Tyson is considered more a victim of his tumultuous life and bi-polar disorder than thoroughly bad convicted felon. There’s a lot of affection for Tyson out there and you could say he is a man redeemed, the Oprah interview was a first step on that long road back.
Fifteen years after being convicted of conspiring to hinder prosecution, heavily fined and banned for competitive figure skating for life, Tonya Harding went on Oprah to air her views and ‘start again with a new life’. Oprah was far less sympathetic and even icy this time around, but she gave Harding ample opportunity to repeatedly deny she ever had anything to do with the infamous attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan. Today she’s a minor celebrity in the US and a professional boxer as well as race car driver.