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10 Questions Oprah Winfrey Should Have Asked Lance Armstrong

This article is more than 10 years old.

Lance Armstrong has admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. The disgraced U.S. cyclist made the admission during a 2 1/2 hour interview with Oprah Winfrey on Monday. The conversation was to be broadcast on Thursday but Winfrey said it will now run in two parts over two nights because there is so much material.

Winfrey tells CBS she prepared for the interview "like a college exam," and was able to ask Armstrong most of the 112 questions she prepared for the interview.

Here are the ten queries I hope — but I doubt — made the cut:

1.) “Why me? Why not a real journalist?”

NBC’s Tom Brokaw wanted to do it. So did Scott Pelley of CBS. ESPN. Sports Illustrated. The New York Times. Could it possibly have been because of the softball interview Oprah did with convicted track star Marion Jones back in 2008, when, oozing sympathy, she allowed Jones to claim, preposterously, she’d taken performance enhancing drugs by accident, victimized by her coaches and trainers, thinking it was flaxseed oil?

And as a follow up; “Why now?” Could it be because the 7 year statute of limitations on Armstrong’s 2005 deposition testimony, in which he swore under oath he had never used performance-enhancing drugs, has now expired, freeing him from a well-deserved perjury charge?

2.) “Before you were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996, how many years had you been taking performance-enhancing drugs?”

Five? Ten? Armstrong’s first Tour de France win was in 1999, but teammates and team operatives have said he was taking illegal substances long before then.

3.) “Did any of your doctors believe that your cancer could have been brought on by the steroids, testosterone, human growth hormones, corticosteroids, and EPO that, according to two friends, you told your doctors you had taken in your career?”

Those two friends were Betsy and Frankie Andreu. Frankie was a teammate. Betsy was a close pal of Lance’s first wife, Kristin. The foursome often dined together. When Frankie and Betsy visited Lance in the hospital, Betsy overheard Lance cataloging that list of performance-enhancing drugs to his doctor before his chemotherapy treatments and was furious that her husband-to-be might also be taking that assortment of drugs. She later testified to that effect in a deposition taken during a 2005 lawsuit. When that testimony became public in 2006, Armstrong called her “vindictive, bitter, vengeful and jealous.” He emailed Frankie: “By helping bring me down is not going to help y’alls situation at all.”

Armstrong, as we shall see, was big on veiled threats.

4.) “How can you sleep at night after publicly calling your former masseuse, ‘a prostitute with a drinking problem’ — and then suing her for telling the truth?”

Emma O’Reilly worked for Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service team from 1996 to 1999, the year he won the first of his seven Tour de France titles. In 2003, during an interview with journalist David Walsh, O’Reilly recounted how the team doctor had once flushed $25,000 worth of performance-enhancing drugs down the toilet of the team bus in fear that French police were going to search it. She said Armstrong had once asked her to dispose of syringes for him. Another time, after he had tested positive for the banned substance corticosteroid during the 1999 Tour, he had had the team doctor backdate a prescription for the drug and say he had needed it for saddle sores. She recalled once driving six hours to Spain to pick up pills for Armstrong, which he told her to keep secret. Finally, she bought makeup for him to hide the syringe marks on his arms. She said she felt more like a drug mule than a masseuse. Even though she never had to pay any damage charges to Armstrong, defending the lawsuit nearly bankrupted her.

5.) “What did you mean when you told Italian rider Fillippo Simeoni: ‘You made a mistake when you testified against [Dr. Michele] Ferrari ... I can destroy you’?”

The incident occurred during the 2004 Tour de France. Ferrari was Armstrong’s team doctor, and had previously been Simeoni’s. Simeoni had been asked to testify against Ferrari by the Italian police, and had simply told the truth. He never mentioned Armstrong. But as a result of Armstrong’s campaign of vengeance, Simeoni had trouble finding a team that would employ him and, he believes, missed the prime of his racing career. He’s still haunted by the memories.

6.) “Why did you tell former teammate Tyler Hamilton: 'I am going to make your life a living ... f-ing ... hell...' after he discussed your team’s illegal drug use on '60 Minutes' in 2011?”

7.) “Why, in 2004, while you were being investigated for illegal drug use, did you offer to make a donation to the U.S. Anti-Drug Agency (USADA) of $250,000?” (They turned it down.) “Was it because you received favorable treatment from the International Cycling Union after gifting that joke of an organization with $100,000?”

8.) “What did you mean when you texted Levi Leipheimer’s wife, Odessa: ‘Run, don’t walk,’ when you saw the two of them at a party after Levi had testified before a grand jury as part of a federal investigation that was later dropped? And is it true that when Leipheimer was a member of the RadioShack team you founded in 2011, employees forwarded him the following intimidating message: ‘I never forget. One day I will pay back.’”

9.) “Would you like to apologize to 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis for calling him ‘a liar’ after he said you had taken illegal drugs when you were teammates — after he’d been stripped of his 2006 title. Or to Dr. Prentice Steffen, former doctor of the U.S. Postal Service team, who lost his job with another team after you exerted pressure on them because Steffen spoke publicly about the doping on the U.S. Postal Service team?”

10.) “If you are as vengeful, mean-spirited, dishonest and unforgiving as these and numerous other instances cited in USADA’s 1,000-page report against you suggests, how can you have the brazen hubris to ask for our forgiveness?”


This program aired on January 15, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.


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