Lance Armstrong 'unlikely to own up' to drugs

WILL HE OWN UP?: Lance Armstrong will be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey this week.
WILL HE OWN UP?: Lance Armstrong will be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey this week.

The New Zealander who knows Lance Armstrong best says massive legal consequences will block the disgraced cyclist from making a full drugs confession in this week's vaunted Oprah Winfrey interview.

Wellington-based Mike Anderson, who has known Armstrong since he was 16, was hired as his personal assistant in 2002 and claimed finding evidence of steroid use two years later, predicts Friday's globally screened interview will be a non-event.

Last night American newspaper USA Today quoted an anonymous source, saying Armstrong "plans to admit to doping throughout his career but probably will not get into great detail about specific cases and events".

Anderson said he can't see the point of such a "half-admission", suspecting Armstrong's real motive for giving his first interview since being outed is to test public opinion of him since being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and being banned for life from all Olympic sports. Armstrong is known to be harbouring hope for a return to competition.

Anderson, a Texan who relocated his family to New Zealand in 2007 after a lengthy and expensive legal battle with Armstrong, believes the chance of a full confession is "slim to none" for fear of becoming a sitting duck for legal, and even criminal, action.

"The whole thing is absolutely bizarre," Anderson said.

"I can't see the point of a half-admission with no detail and I honestly don't know why he would make a full admission because it would completely open the gates to major litigation.

"I think that's inevitable, but if he admits [everything] he will be pretty much broke. All his money will be gone straight away. It would be like taking candy from a baby at that point.

"I think it's more a test of public response to gauge whether to fight a pending criminal prosecution. It's a common tactic, particularly for big public figures in the United States, to do."

Anderson doesn't expect Armstrong to apologise to anyone he has mercilessly sought to discredit either - including Anderson himself, former team masseuse Emma O'Reilly, who Armstrong branded a "prostitute" and "alcoholic" and a close team rider's wife, Betsy Andreu, who testified Armstrong admitted his doping to doctors shortly after his cancer surgery.

Last week's announcement that Armstrong will break his silence in an interview with chat show host Winfrey on Friday afternoon (NZT) follows a New York Times report last week, which also cited anonymous sources, claiming Armstrong was considering a confession and was even seeking a meeting with World Anti-Doping Agency boss David Howman.

But New Zealander Howman said that neither Armstrong nor his legal team had made any such approach - though he would be open to a discussion.

The Winfrey interview has been met with high anticipation through the chance that Armstrong might come clean. However, Anderson is among the cynics, saying Winfrey "defines soft-ball interviewing".

"Oprah was a cultural icon 15 years ago, but no longer has the same relevance," he said. "They really are two peas in a pod . . . they both suffer from acute cases of megalomania.

"I would be shocked if there was any depth to any of it, so I'm not holding my breath for anything positive to come out of it.

Sunday Star Times