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Oprah and Lance: Still Missing the Real Dope

Local area resident Judy Shepps Battle reflects on the recent Oprah Winfrey interview of cyclist Lance Armstrong in which he admitted engaging in doping activities.


I swore I wasn't going to comment on the Lance Armstrong doping situation but I just finished watched his three-hour interview with Oprah Winfrey and I have strong feelings I'd like to share.

Clearly, Armstrong is just beginning to process his psychological response to the collapse of his world and barely able to reflect on the events, his feelings, or his future. He was immune to Oprah's excellent probing style because (I'm guessing) he is basically a man of "action" rather than "reflection."

As he stated in the interview many times, he wants to "fix" the problem and it sure seems that "the problem" was "getting caught" not his own need to consciously cheat and lie.

But, rather than attack Lance Armstrong (he is exactly where he should be after a career of doping and lying and now coming "clean"), I just want to express my disappointment in Oprah for even running this interview for 3 hours.

She could have more profitably interviewed Armstrong for an hour and spent the rest of the time talking to other athletes that have had their careers lost over cheating and had time to process that experience. There are so many candidates for such a focus.

 It's also important that we look at the wider picture with regard to doping in sports.

 It isn't by accident that so many of our hero-athletes tend to have chemically-induced clay feet. Or that so many elected officials are caught in a web of lies.

Perhaps it is time to have Oprah address the larger question of why we as a society need to have stronger-than-human gladiators to entertain us and then are aghast that they engage in doping practices.

At least this is my feeling on a late January afternoon here in Central NJ, USA.

I'm curious what everyone else is thinking about this issue.


Judy Shepps Battle is a New Jersey resident, addictions specialist, consultant and freelance writer. Her weekly column "It Takes a Village" appeared in the South Brunswick Patch for a year. She can be reached by e-mail at writeaction@aol.com. Additional information on this and other topics can be found at her website at http://www.writeaction.com/. 

Copyright 2013 Judy Shepps Battle

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Judy Clack Bowen January 20, 2013 at 02:18 AM
I did not watch the interview so I did not realize that thing was stretched out for 3 hours which is certainly overkill to my way of thinking. Your ideas about interviewing other athletes really would have been more educational and less sensational. I'm not proud of Lance Armstrong and his lack of concern for the people, the sport and the country he represents. Such a waste.
Gwen Olitsky January 20, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Yet again, Oprah amazes me with her exploitation of people. Not that Lance Armstrong wasn't a willing participant. I think his behavior has been disgusting, but that doesn't justify her part in this drama. I think his emotional discussion about lying to his children was well scripted, and part of whatever he's setting up for his next act. As for 'why now, why with Oprah,' it made me think about the kids who are fresh out of rehab, trotted out on a school assembly stage to talk about all of the horrors of their drug use, and getting set up for failure....by vultures who are so proud of themselves for the 'coup' of the exploitation.
Gwen Olitsky January 20, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Armstrong needs to do some sort of long-term community service that is never discussed or advertised, thinking along the lines of the Jewish vision of Tzedakah, where a high form of charity is not knowing who receives your good works, and the recipient never knowing who was the giver. Which leads me to: did you see the movie, "The Mission" ? A beautiful depiction of a man trying to deal with the pain of his past actions. Interesting to me, my grandsons were watching something about Oprah's interviews on TV with me yesterday (yet another 'in service day' where they were off from school), and I asked them what they thought about Lance Armstrong, and they both said, "He's a loser!" which is the antithesis of what Armstrong wanted people to think. Then they wanted to know, "Is he poor now?" The kids were 'spot on,' because Armstrong should, because of his own actions, be 'poor' in many ways. I wonder what his next act will be? But for sure I will not be watching or supporting him. Was it Charles Barkley who said, "I don't want to be a role model"? Well, tough... when you work so hard to be in the public eye, to do what has legions of kids and adults adoring you, you'd better know that you become some kind of role model, and you have a moral and ethical obligation to your public, especially the kids. I want my grandsons to know that when you let people down, there are consequences.
Jim Brittain January 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM
I suspect that Mr. Armstrong "came clean" to try to salvage some shreds of his disappearing career; he has not only been dropped by the Livestrong campaign (which was his signature charity), but his corporate sponsorships have withered. Part of the problem is that we need to decide what we, the sports-viewing public, want. We like extreme performance in sports, whether it's on the Tour de France, in baseball with hitters like Mark McGwire, or whatever. As we provide a market for these performances, there will be those who will do dangerous things to provide them. Before Lance Armstrong, did anybody in this country pay any attention to competitive cycling? And during the McGwire era, do you remember what was happening to baseball viewership? It certainly wasn't dropping! I also think we should ask the athletes - even the ones who aren't using EPO or whatever. Ask top athletes: if the use of these substances were allowed, would you use them, knowing they might reduce your lifespan? I'm sure a sizeable number of respondents would be something along the order of "Heck, yes!" (they might use stronger terminology). For these people, a short life, with a stellar sports career, would be preferable to a life in the undistinguished middle of the pack.
Stefano January 20, 2013 at 03:18 PM
I like your idea of interviewing other athletes as well. I felt the interview was unnecessary. He is guilty of the crime and of lying about it. He had so many chances. I would have rather have watched an interview about those who used tHe he same drugs but got kicked out of their sport and had to deal with their actions. We can learn more from them. Lance is a career-long cheat, a liar, and a coward. Why give him the time of day? I have no remorse for Lance, who was able to keep "winning" for so many years, doing wrong over and over again, and preventing those who trained hard naturally from getting ahead.
Nancy Stek January 20, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Giving Lance 3 hours is over the top. Perhaps in 5 years if he works diligently at self-reflection and changing his actions, choices and perspective, a 3 hour interview might yield something of value educationally. It it unfortunate he gets so much press when someone like Anaya (see below) gets none. Anaya actions and vales deserve a 3 hour interview ans worldwide viewing. There's a man we can lean something from. "On December 2, Basque athlete Iván Fernández Anaya was competing in a cross-country race. He was running second, some distance behind race leader Abel Mutai - bronze medalist in the London Olympics. Entering the finishing straight, he saw the Kenyan runner - the certain winner of the race - mistakenly pull up about 10 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line. Fernández Anaya quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai's mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind and, using gestures, guided the Kenyan to the line and let him cross first. Anayasaid after the test: "But even if they had told me that winning would have earned me a place in the Spanish team for the European championships, I wouldn't have done it either. I also think that I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won. And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well."
Lynda Ziemba January 20, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Although I only saw small segments of the way too long interview, I also, as Judy states, believe Oprah's time would have been better spent speaking w/ other athletes during the 3 hour time slot. From what I caught of the discussion, I definitely got the impression Armstrong was not truly sorry for the dishonest acts committed....simply sorry he got caught!! Also, he didn't appear the least bit contrite over the serious harm caused to former friends when he referred to them as liars...this when those same friends attempted to bring knowledge of his doping scheme to the public eye. Personally, my feeling is Armstrong should not only be stripped of his medals and awards, but should be made to repay every penny earned while living his lie!! Thanks again, Judy, for a timely, well constructed, and very interesting article.
roberta karant January 20, 2013 at 11:56 PM
Judy, as always, you're right on. my take on the whole thing is that yes, we are looking for super gladiators to worship and idolize, but it almost doesn't matter how unethical and dishonest people are to get there. it seems as if their only mistake is getting caught, and i wish we'd stop reacting as if we're so shocked when we hear their "confession" on some talk show. Who believes he he doesn't have a motive in "coming clean?" We have become so jaded that even if his confession were sincere, we'd probably think he's only trying to get his own reality show. Ahh!
Cheryl E. January 21, 2013 at 12:05 PM
I completely agree!! Well said.


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