Cycling: British cyclist David Millar expressed fears today that Lance Armstrong’s appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show will be “completely stage-managed.”
Armstrong is set to break his silence over accusations that he was at the heart of a sophisticated drug programme that helped propel him to seven Tour de France victories when he speaks to the famous chat show host next Thursday.
The US cyclist has since been stripped of his titles, but has the opportunity to come clean in a 90-minute interview that will be aired at 9pm eastern time in the US or 2am in Britain, and will be streamed on Oprah.com at the same time.
It could prove a seminal moment in cycling history were Armstrong to offer a confession, but Millar (below, left), a member of the athletes commission for the World Anti-Doping Agency, says the chat show is the wrong platform for the Texan to talk about such an important issue.
Millar, a former doper turned anti-drugs campaigner, said: “Only Lance would get to have his moment of truth, if that’s what it will be, in front of Oprah Winfrey.
“It is not sitting in front of a judge or a disciplinary hearing being properly questioned about the things he has done wrong. I doubt very much it will be a proper interrogation.
“My biggest concern is that it will be completely stage-managed, that he will just be ‘given the ball,’ and that it will all be about his emotions rather than concentrating on exactly what he did wrong.
“The question should also be asked whether he is getting paid for going on the show.”
A spokesman for the Oprah show confirmed that Armstrong would not be receiving a fee for his appearance and added that “no question is off limits.”
Armstrong was stripped of his Tour titles by the International Cycling Union (UCI) following a report by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) which concluded the 41-year-old and his US Postal Service team had run “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.”
The Oprah show will be Armstrong’s first formal interview since he was banned for life by the UCI. The Oprah Winfrey Network claimed in a statement that “Armstrong will address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his storied cycling career.”
Armstrong did not participate in the USADA investigation and did not appeal against the sanctions against him resulting from its findings.