Lance Armstrong 'showed too little contrition' with Oprah
Interview was a triumph for Winfrey, some say, but disgraced cyclist still has questions to answer
LANCE ARMSTRONG displayed too little contrition and left too many questions unanswered during last night's interview with Oprah Winfrey, commentators say.
While the American cyclist did admit to doping during all seven of his Tour de France wins and confessed to bullying team-mates, he came across "as more clever and calculating than forthcoming," writes Rachel Ray in the Daily Telegraph. At no point in the 90-minute interview did he seem "really sad or remorseful".
Armstrong was clearly well-rehearsed for the interview and appeared "remarkably unstressed" by Winfrey's 112 questions given the events of the past few months, says The Guardian. His encounter with the American chat show host was clearly part of a wider "strategy", says the paper, because he got his confession out of the way "very quickly" and it was "actually very limited". The rest of the encounter was "obfuscation and camouflage".
The Daily Mail's Meghan Kelly says Armstrong made "contradictory" statements such as when he admitted to bullying team-mates, but then said he didn't force them to take drugs. The disgraced cyclist "came off as callous and arrogant", she says and when asked to comment on some of the women he had verbally abused and sued when they testified against him, he "still lacked empathy".
BBC sports editor David Bond agrees the interview was "well choreographed" and left too much unsaid, but says it was "deeply humiliating" for Armstrong nonetheless. "It was, at times, astonishing to see a man who bestrode his sport for years forced to admit it was all a lie and that he was an arrogant bully," he writes.
There was some scepticism prior to last night's interview about whether Winfrey would be a dogged enough interrogator. In the event, many commentators praised her efforts to extract the truth from a man who spent years lying about his drug-taking.
The Telegraph's Ray says the interview was "a triumph" for Winfrey who "refused to relent" in her questioning. The Independent says the chat show host appeared "well briefed for the interview" and had a "finer recollection of some incidents than the shamed cyclist himself".
Not everyone agrees that Winfrey pressed Armstrong hard enough. Writing in The Guardian, William Fotheringham said the cyclist was lucky he was facing Oprah not the head of one of the anti-doping organisations, because "time after time, Winfrey would raise a key issue, then fail to press him on it. The interview would, she said early on, be all about the detail, but she seemed to shy away from that detail whenever it raised its ugly head."
The second part of Winfrey's interview will be broadcast tonight (2 am Saturday, UK time).