On Tuesday, Oprah Winfrey announced she’d landed a “no holds barred” interview with Lance Armstrong that would air on Jan. 17 on Oprah’s Next Chapter, his first interview since he was stripped of his cycling titles. The speculation instantly turned to whether this would be the forum in which Armstrong would finally confess to doping, an admission he’s reportedly been considering after ten years of denials, in exchange for having his lifetime cycling ban lifted. But Armstrong’s got a new scandal to talk about at the interview, too.
Earlier on Tuesday, the new 60 Minutes Sports (which airs on Showtime Wednesday) teased an interview in its premiere episode with Travis Tygart, the head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, who claimed Armstrong had donated $100,000 to the International Cycling Union and offered to donate “in excess of $150,000” to the USADA in 2004. Tygart called the offer “a clear conflict of interest for USADA,” whose investigation into Armstrong’s alleged doping eventually led the one-time Tour de France champion to be stripped of his seven titles. Armstrong never admitted to doping but said he would stop fighting the allegations against him.
At this point, though, that new allegation is small potatoes compared to the idea that Armstrong could finally admit to doping. If he’s going to do it on Oprah’s show, she’s going to need to have some “no-holds barred” questions ready to make good on her promise. The New York Times points out that Oprah has been soft on disgraced athletes before, letting former track and field Olympian Marion Jones “claim during a 2008 interview that she had used performance-enhancing drugs unintentionally.”
Now, The Times notes, the cycling journalism world is champing at the bit to offer Winfrey advice on how to handle Armstrong, with journalists tweeting suggested questions and offers of education for the talk show host. But while Winfrey obviously should do her research like any interviewer, it seems a fair bet that after ten years denying his doping in the face of increasing evidence by arbiters of his sport, Armstrong already knows what he’s going to say to her. Here’s hoping she can get him to say as much of it as possible.