Oprah calls Lance a 'bully and a liar'

2013-01-18 09:14
Los Angeles - Incredulous, attentive and direct, Oprah Winfrey dug into the psyche of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, calling him out as a bully and a brazen liar, after he admitted to years of systematic doping.

Casting aside her trademark warmth and brimming eyes, Winfrey wasted no time on niceties, plunging straight into short, direct questions that saw the seven-times Tour de France winner end years of denials.

"Were you a bully?" Winfrey challenged Armstrong, referring to the pressure he put on cycling team mates to join him in taking performance enhancing substances.

"Tell me, how were you a bully?" she persisted at one point in the first 90-minute televised interview on her OWN cable channel.

'You didn't just deny it'

Winfrey, 58, pioneered the art of confessional TV during her 25 year-long reign on her daytime chat show, making her comfortable couches the go-to place for celebrities wanting to apologise for indiscretions or unburden their darkest secrets.

But during the broadcast, bright sofas were replaced with two hard-backed chairs, and Armstrong was made to watch video of his past victory speeches and interviews.

"You didn't just deny it. You brazenly and defiantly denied it," she told Armstrong over his years of repeated lies.

"This is too late. It is too late for probably most people and that is my fault," he conceded. "I view this situation as one big lie."

"You are suing people, and knowing they are telling the truth. What is that?" she later asked of Armstrong's legal actions against journalists, friends and fellow team members who spoke out over the years.

'A gentle way'

Armstrong, 41, dressed in an open-necked blue shirt and dark jacket, may have been expecting a different reception when he chose Winfrey as his confessor, rather than holding a news conference or issuing a statement.

"Oprah is so overbrimming with humanity that the person being interviewed hopes that a bit of it will rub off on them," said Robert Thompson, professor of pop culture at Syracuse University, before the broadcast.

"Part of sitting down and doing an interview and confessing to another person and being asked questions is almost like you are starting to pay a penalty.

"The idea is that Oprah will do that, not necessarily in a softball way, but in a gentle way. Oprah is not going to hit you on the head," Thompson told Reuters.

Lance watches old victory speeches

The smiles were few and far between on Thursday, as Winfrey dug deep for answers without ever raising her voice.

"I can't reconcile what you were thinking when you did this?" she said, after playing video of Armstrong's 2005 Tour de France victory speech in which he dismissed critics as cynics.

A second hour of the interview, taped earlier this week in Texas, will be shown on Friday.

"Was it just you being your cocky, arrogant, jerk self?" Winfrey asks Armstrong in an excerpt of Friday's one-hour session.

Although Winfrey's influence has waned since she ended The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011 to launch her OWN cable channel, she has proved she can still pull in the big names, if not the huge audiences she enjoyed when her show was broadcast in 140 nations.

Ratings boost?

Landing Armstrong was arguably Oprah's finest moment since she coaxed pop singer Michael Jackson out of 14 years of TV interview silence for a 1993 broadcast watched by an estimated 90 million people worldwide.

For much of Thursday, the OWN cable channel ran a countdown clock during regular programming ahead of Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive.

The interview was also watched online by viewers from as far afield as Britain, Singapore, South Korea and Brazil, according to comments on Oprah.com.

Winfrey herself termed the sit-down with Armstrong "certainly the biggest interview I have ever done in terms of exposure".

What may prove a huge PR boost to Oprah and her OWN TV ratings, may not be so clear-cut for Armstrong.

"I'm not sure what he expects, or what he can achieve by fessing up after so many years. But if Armstrong wants to be talked about, you couldn't do better than doing it with Oprah," said Thompson.

*South African viewers can tune in on Friday evening for the first part of the interview at 19:30 on TLC (DStv channel 172/TopTV channel 453). The second part of the interview will be screened Saturday evening at 19:30.


  • compos.mentis.58 - 2013-01-18 09:22

    Oh hell two drama queens in one room.... Let that be a lesson to Elton John... he he he

      charlesbronson.bronson - 2013-01-18 09:38

      Oprah Winfrey what will you call JZ. Womanizer, Dictator thief and layer!

      janice.mcmaster.92 - 2013-01-18 09:54

      In my opinion, he is a thief!!! He stole from the legal competitors again and again times 7, and then some!!!

      Jeremy - 2013-01-18 10:07

      Janice, I doubt whether Lance was the only competitor taking drugs - and I doubt whether he "forced" others to take them. You'll probably find that the top ten finishers in every Tour de France in that period was on performance-enhancers. So, if that's the case, it shouldn't be just Lance who loses his medals.

      walter.o.latham - 2013-01-18 10:26

      The only way that Armstrong can redeem himself is to now help the world clean up this despicable crime in all forms of sport. He must serve his time in gaol, repay the millions of dollars earned and involve himself directly in "preventing doping, drugs and performance enhancing medicines" for the rest of his life.

      janice.mcmaster.92 - 2013-01-18 10:29

      Jeremy that is very true, but what about the genuine guys? Its not fair.

      Rick.Gonzo.56 - 2013-01-18 10:32

      And his supporters are idiots of the highest order.

      PrettyUsefulArt - 2013-01-18 11:11

      This drama queen said it best: Evita Bezuidenhout ?@TannieEvita Yes, after all the lies, God will forgive if you confess, #LanceArmstrong. She's black, she's a woman and her name is Oprah!

      preshen.govender.12382 - 2013-01-18 12:16

      she forgot to call him a fraud

      joben.jobes - 2013-01-18 14:15

      They were ALL on drugs. His was just the best. The others are still too chicken to admit truth that Armstrong did.

      philip.harris.967 - 2013-01-18 15:00

      Rabobank ended decades of Tour De France sponsorship with the comments that they had no confidence that cycling authorities could make the sport "clean" ...now or in the forseeable future. A very sad indictment. Sport is NOT "clean" In the 100 meter olympic sprint final where Ben Johnson was caught for steroid use and banned ....ALL of the finalists bar one were subsequently caught using ilegal drugs. Dick Pound said recently that if you are caught drugging you have failed two tests ..the drug test and an IQ test ...that is because it is so easy to get away with it. My point being that the real fools here are us .......if we believe that drugging in athletic events is nothing short of rampant. In my eyes , Lance Armstrong was the best of a whole bunch of drugging cyclists. Sadly though , we will never really know for sure.

      frangelico.paizes - 2013-01-18 16:21

      compos.mentis.58,In all fairness Oprah is no bully ,but she definitely is a liar,she lied about her past,her childhood & abuse,how was she to know that her history of promicuity would come back to haunt her.I too had a lousy childhood but I kept my dignity as did my sibling.

  • conrad.koorsten - 2013-01-18 09:32

    This is pathetic.just leave the guy alone now.what more do they wany to take from him? Any and every person has their faults and made their mistakes.just ask yourself if he isnt good enough to compete in something that he loves...why is the millions he constantly gives to charity good enough?

      stuart.bigmore - 2013-01-18 09:41

      Two egos having a go. One an athlete whatever with world wide credentials and a waxing fat broomstick who needs her ratings to go up americans love this.Its their only form of entertainment. How pathetic does the world need to be.

      jrheeder - 2013-01-18 09:52

      Lets put this into perspective for you: If Zoomer were to be siphoning tens of millions off our tax money, and in the mean while set up a foundation where he would donate acouple mill to for cancer, would you also as kfor him to be left alone? Every penny he has been given was not earned legitimately, who is to say that the riders who came runner up to Lance all those years would not have set up a similar fund? Not that it is about the Livestrong fund anyway, it is about him taking away 1st place from other legitimate riders, its about him actively ending careers of many other people in order to continue with his elaborate doping plans.

      tamlin.vanheerver - 2013-01-18 10:02

      conrad you have the IQ of a rat, how many drug dealers give to charity and their churches or their local community, should we just turn the other way? Wake up man

      Mike.ntsh2009 - 2013-01-18 10:09

      Stuart, What is your form of entertainment, attacking other personalities on N24?

      Erna - 2013-01-18 10:21

      How can you justify this behaviour? He lied all these years - that's more than a mistake. A mistake is something you do by accident, not by blood transfusion!

      adrien.mcguire - 2013-01-18 11:10

      @ Conrad I doubt I will find you saying similar things about Malema, Zuma, Selebi, Shaik, Cele, and the rest of the crooked politicians in this country. A crook is a crook and you cannot choose to forgive some and not the others. Armstrong is probably the biggest cheat/crook in the history of sport and everything he earned, money and medals, should be taken from him.If he committed perjury then he must go to jail like everyone else does for the same offence. What he did was no less than fraud.... simple as that. And whilst he is in jail , he can assist Lindsay Lohan to get over her drug and alcohol problems. Just because one is famous it does not mean you are treated differently in the eyes of the law. The same justice must apply to everyone, rich or poor, famous or not, politician or ordinary citizen ! Have a nice day !

      andre.vandeventer.16 - 2013-01-18 11:51

      Who on earth is Oprah to belittle anyone. She has more skeletons in the cupboard than most of us!

      derek.francois.3 - 2013-01-18 14:03

      Conrad do you feel the same about Zuma as they have a lot in common...............

      carolyn.simshandcock - 2013-01-18 22:13

      Those are not his millions to give away, are they?

  • colin.taylor.9883 - 2013-01-18 09:37

    The sport has already been damaged. The more they push the issue with Armstrong the longer it will take for the sport to recover.

  • joy.termorshuizen - 2013-01-18 09:39

    The only reason he is ( half ) admitting anything is obviously he is being paid an astronomical amount for this interview. Horrible man!!!!

  • mbali.mvuyana - 2013-01-18 09:41

    Now this is an interview that I cant wait to watch!

      René Muller - 2013-01-18 11:16

      Oh c'mon Oprah, and you are overweight! No one is perfect!

      jacowium - 2013-01-18 11:49

      @ René Could you come up with a weaker defence of Armstrong? Attacking Oprah for her personal appearance? Oprah never said she is perfect. No one is - yet that doesn't mean we shouldn't have ethical standards at all. Should a judge not sentence a criminal, because he isn't perfect either? No, he's doing his job, and Oprah is doing hers.

      ReneMuller.XOXO - 2013-01-18 14:33

      @jaco, I don't need to defend anyone! Please show me ONE individual who has done NOTHING wrong in his/her life and then I'll shut-up. The fact is, he will not be the first nor the last to commit something 'bad'. Also the companies crucifying him now, made millions out of him, even all this publicity is making millions for someone & companies. Everyone has something 'bad' to say. If you're not perfect, shurrup!! Plain and simple @janine, no she cannot, she tried and failed and million times. Lance cheated years back and is telling the truth now, but still he is being judged. You are no different to him.

      adrien.mcguire - 2013-01-18 16:10

      @ Rene You are retarded, you are advocating that possibly the biggest crime in the history of sport go unpunished, Do you say the same about Malema, zuma, shaik, cele, selebi etc ... I doubt it ! It is people like you that cause the moral fibre of this world to disintergrate with your senseless "star struck" worshipping. You are a disgrace.

      jacowium - 2013-01-18 17:00

      What Adrien said. René, I'd love to see you say, "If you're not perfect, shurrup!!", whenever anyone criticises our government, taxi drivers, devious policemen, Eskom management, SABC boards, Bafana Bafana, Winnie Mandela, matchfixers, etc. etc. Seriously René, have you NEVER criticised any of the above? Are you such an angel? Or is only Lance Armstrong exempt from criticism because hey, no-one is perfect, all of a sudden. And oooh, the clincher: pointing fingers at Oprah Winfrey because you're thinner. *facepalm* René, if you paid ANY attention, you'll know that taking performance enhancing drugs is amongst the least of Armstrong's sins. His behaviour towards anyone with a conscience, who didn't want to play along with him, was appalling and borderline psychopathic, to say the least. He sued them, and in various ways destroyed their careers. I seriously encourage you to get informed on the list of hideous things he did. That said, it is such a tragedy that his charities will suffer as a consequence of his actions.

  • brandon.houghton - 2013-01-18 09:43

    At least he had the ball to come clean.

      dienaakte.waarheid.7 - 2013-01-18 09:58

      i see what you did there.....

      derek.francois.3 - 2013-01-18 14:05

      not sure the scumbag still has those.................

  • james.hunt.161214 - 2013-01-18 09:44

    Surely his "handlers" knew about the performance enhancing? It would not surprise me one iota if some (if not all) of the sponsor, either knew or suspected but remained mum because of the exposure their products received. I will never be convinced that he could have kept it a secret, that is bulldust. In my mind they are all guilty whilst he is the one that is being exposed - sickening really isn't it?

  • sarelbrune.pretorius - 2013-01-18 09:44

    This Lance Armstrong thing is really becoming utterly boring. Who are we to throw stones. As if all of us have not done something wrong in our lives, most peoples' skeletons just stay in the closet. I am absolutely sure we have more important things to attend to than crusify Lance, for things way back in the past. Lets worry about how to get through this year by respecting one another and grant each person a spot under the sun.

      mike.bundy.73 - 2013-01-18 10:43

      I disagree. We are not all famous people who are admired and respected worldwide. We are not people who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars to represent truth, courage and sportsmanship. We are the people that paid him that money through our purchases of the sponsored products that he promoted. He SHOULD be exposed, reviled and hated like the thieving cheat that he is.

      derek.francois.3 - 2013-01-18 14:07

      sak nou Sarel! this is the biggest sports scandal in history..........I'm sure you have the same tendencies towards ZUMA...........

      ReneMuller.XOXO - 2013-01-18 14:37

      @derek, if Joe Soap had won the Tour de France 7 or 8 times, he would have been on the ropes now. 100's of them have done what Lancie did, but because he was the winner, the focus is on him. Aitog, he should've stuck with the ex president Clinton's lines 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman' or the Lance version: I did not use drugs whilst cycling - it worked for the President and he is still 'loved' and 'married'.

  • lybon1 - 2013-01-18 09:45

    My fallen heroes Lance and tiger#shameful#......now my BIGGEST HERO roger federer is the last clean sports icon i have left......if he goes to oprah too......i'll give up on mankind.....but federer will never disapoint me

      ilse.smalberger - 2013-01-18 10:04

      So true! And Usain Bolt of course. If Usain admits to doping, I'll just have to start watching darts or something.

      lybon1 - 2013-01-18 10:13

      Oh...yes...i forgot usain bolt

      trudiroos.potter - 2013-01-19 08:06

      Federerer is tops! He will not also disappoint us! Of that l am sure. Im heartbrokem about Armstrong. As a cancersurvivor he has always been my hero. I just want to know why America waited so long to crucify him? They knew he was on something. Imthink they were bathing in his fame.

  • jan.vos.353 - 2013-01-18 09:48

    Lance will stay the HERO! Everyone in cycling was cheating then, and that's a fact, so if you cheat the other cheaters you're still the best. They can take away his titles, but he stil has the memories of those amazing moments winning the other cheaters. Well done Lance, there's still a HUGE amount of fans out there.

      tamlin.vanheerver - 2013-01-18 10:03

      so now everyone was cheating right??? Every single person??? How many people just gave up because they couldnt beat him. He's pathetic

      chrisjanbotha - 2013-01-18 10:20

      If the others also cheated it still does not make it right. It will be sour memories as he did not achieve in an honest and honourable way, he needed a crutch in the form of drugs.

      tau.motaung - 2013-01-18 10:25

      Granted they were all cheating but by your logic, it's then acceptable to cheat. What a great role model. It's not even about him any more, it's about which lab can create the best performance enhancing drugs

      tau.motaung - 2013-01-18 10:29

      Granted they were all cheating but by your logic, it's then acceptable to cheat. What a great role model. It's not even about him any more, it's about which lab can create the best performance enhancing drugs

  • Tishan - 2013-01-18 09:53

    Yawn.. all publicity stunt.. Oprah needed her ratings boosted.. Lance is probaly writing Autobiography which will be turned into a movie.. he is going to need the cash after settling all those lawsuits.

  • flysouth - 2013-01-18 10:00

    The guy is of course a liar and a big-time cheat and fraud. Hearing that he is worth 800 million from his misdeeds, one wonders why that money cannot be taken from him, since he defrauded many people and organisations to get that cash. The guy should be jailed, he is the worst kind of thief.

      terry.burne - 2013-01-18 11:11

      The queues to remove that 800 million of misbegotten money are forming as we type!

  • mncedisi.ntuli.37 - 2013-01-18 10:03

    I guess u do need EPO to cycle from England to france, like the hansie story the real thruth is known by the lawyers

      mike.bundy.73 - 2013-01-18 10:49

      We know enough of the Hansie story to know that he was also a lying, thieving cheat. He has ruined the sport of cricket for many fans, as Armstrong has now done for cycling.

      Irene Kambo - 2013-01-18 11:15

      Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone!

  • deon.pillay.56 - 2013-01-18 10:03

    Oprah dishes it out to Lance Armstrong calling him a bully and liar, Lance Armstrong confesses in response to Oprah's short and effective quick fire yes and no questions, making him admit to cheating in all 7 Tour de France victories, surely there should be some jail time. Can't believe DSTV is turning interview into a mini series over 2 episodes, catch the first one tonight on DSTV 172 at 19:30.

      Venessa Born Stubborn Ede - 2013-01-18 10:22

      It's not Dstv! It's being broadcast the same way in the States a as well!

  • jason.vanheerden.31 - 2013-01-18 10:04

    *Yawn* basically if he didn't win the tour de france it would be "Insert cyclist name who won" getting this interview now, honestly 95% of them were doing it , just weren't so arrogant about it at the time, if he came 20th no one would be caring about him and what performance enhance drugs he used. All of them should be investigated, fair is fair!

      janos.torok.5209 - 2013-01-18 11:32

      Jason you summed this up beautifully.....agree totally with you!!

  • dennie.dupreez - 2013-01-18 10:12

    Sounds as if she had an interxiew with zuma.

  • nico.ratsela - 2013-01-18 10:13

    Who's next?maybe Phelps

  • neil.lovegrove - 2013-01-18 10:13

    Grovelling little bastard hoping to cash in with this little stunt. He is a really trashy piece of scum, a bully and a fraud.

  • Azwihangwisi - 2013-01-18 10:39

    so selfish!

  • eyesears.handsfeet - 2013-01-18 10:41

    Yes oprah and I guess you are sssooo innocent to, has never lied and has never done something wrong in your life before. The perfect angel. viva "queen so-called innocent" viva

      mike.bundy.73 - 2013-01-18 10:52

      Are you serious? You want to suggest that Oprah is as guilty as Armstrong of lying and stealing?

  • compos.mentis.58 - 2013-01-18 11:06

    @Jeremy. You are right. And professional sport is a vicious circle of need and greed. The obese viewers with the need to see athletes going faster and harder. The greed of the sponsors to ensure viewers and the greed of the athletes to either live up to the expectations of the sponsors or the viewers depending what motivates them. But then I don't judge because everyone needs to do what they need to do to survive this planet.

  • gladness.xaba - 2013-01-18 11:30

    Oprah did this interview to advertise herself. She is becoming known as Oprah who ?

      dorcas.magagula.5 - 2013-01-18 12:23

      The story is not about Oprah don't understand why you making it about her Armstrong agreed to the interview and was not forced to confess his the bad one here!!

      konanani.rachicoper - 2013-01-18 14:23


  • vicky.vanrensburg.7 - 2013-01-18 11:37

    So ...Now Lance will write a book on doping and make Millions, have a movied made of his life and make millions! its a win win:) Lance will always be a legend (I suppose he won fairly - they were all doping at the time) Anyhow " Say No to Doping and Play FAIR!

  • james.sleigh.1 - 2013-01-18 12:08

    If every top cyclist was using, which appears to be the case as those 7 victories didn't pass down to the 2nd or 3rd place riders, then the playing fields were equal. I don't cycle, don't watch the sport, and since it is the biggest cheating discipline out there, don't like the sport. What doest it matter? He won on equal grounds and 7 time at that. Not like he was using 95 octane and all others were using 93? I'm also sure he lied to protect the other guys who were also doping,(all other cyclists at the time) the Dr's who orchestrated the programme and those who duffed the testing process. Not to discount himself. My prob with Armstrong is that he was/is belligerent, and bullied his team mates. Just all round not a nice guy. Did he deserve to win those races? Under the circumstances he was competing against, then yes. Maybe now the class of sport can clean up its act. Till then it remains in the same class of Pro wrestling, Just cant take it seriously.

  • rahil.khanna.520 - 2013-01-18 12:31

    Why is everyone so surprised ..He was sponsored by Nike afterall ...Just Do It !

  • donovan.crout - 2013-01-18 12:46

    How many books and motivational speakers dedicated their work, or part of it, to his legacy and achievements? How many cancer sufferers and young children looked up to him as a role model? The devastation is far reaching and and goes far beyond the sponsors, money, lies and deception. Many hopes and dreams have been affected, if not destroyed, and nothing he can say or do will make it better, ever. He gave to the less fortunate admirer with ill gotten gain and he took from the fortunate admirer with deceitful conviction.

  • reine.marais - 2013-01-18 13:43

    How in God's name did Oprah get to appoint herself in God's place. Get behind me Satan.

  • anaska.israel - 2013-01-18 14:21

    He was a huge thief, liar and a total fraud for far to many years and got away with it, until it blew up in his own face- i am glad that Ophra used very strong words towards him. I have cancer and i detest this man for using cancer in this awful way - he is a creep and it does not matter how many times he apologises, the whole truth is still to be investigated and not for one moment do i believe he is not taking drugs presently!!

      josh.roscoe - 2013-01-18 15:23

      I'm assuming you've raised over $500,000 for Cancer research and aid?

      louis.langenhoven - 2013-01-18 18:37

      aww Josh that is SOOO lame....btw you forgot to mention that all of it is on the back of his being a first class liar and cheat...blood money if you ask me

  • leigh.paikin - 2013-01-18 14:54

    He cheated, he has been caught and must deal with the consequences. Everything he is and has done is based on a lie...

  • pinky.dabrain.9 - 2013-01-18 16:50

    Lance Armstrong is a cheat. So was half of the cycling fraternity - or more. What makes him different is that he was the BEST cheat with the MOST influence and the MOST money. Don't forget that through all 7 of his Tour wins it is likely that his fiercest competitors were also taking drugs but they still could not beat him. He is quite simply a phenomenal athlete whose fall from grace is shattering.

  • silvia.philips1 - 2013-01-19 06:16

    Lance is a fraud and a lier. Financially he defauded millions from sponsors that could have and should have gone to other struggling athletes. Sponsors should foreclose and seize assets. Secondly, Lance has lied and sued so many people and continued to lie. I dont say he was not dedicated and practised and did the time in the gym and that he did not put is body through hell and back. We tend not to believe a single word that people say when the truth finally comes out. With that said, his great great grand children will still live down the sins of the fathers, if they dont change their surnames.

  • zip.reeper - 2013-01-19 08:05

    one certainly hopes one does not have to endure this self-righteous and ugly character oprah very much longer.

  • susan.fraser.182 - 2013-01-19 12:21

    Oprah...you have no right to judge him...regardless if what he did or did not do...

  • lisa.staden - 2013-01-21 10:31

    In the whole interview Lance had his hand infront of his face and mouth (his mouth was actually so RED from all the touching) . . .I would like to know what the body language fundies say about that... more lies?? I think so . . .

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