Not much of a mea culpa

Getty images

They wanted an admission of cheating, an apology and some sense of remorse from Lance Armstrong.

They got that, within the first 90 seconds.

More memorably, they got a glimpse of a silver-tongued egomaniac as he justified his way through a one-and-a-half-hour sit-down with Oprah Winfrey.

The stories that the world’s most famous cyclist was a jerk (Oprah’s words, not mine) have circulated for years. This time, the world saw it first hand instead of reading about him threatening former teammates, cornering people in bars and publicly accusing them of being crazy and vindictive.

The most cringe-worthy moment (there were many) was when he admitted to calling a teammate’s wife a rude name and crazy, but denied that he ever called her fat. He said he had called her and apologised, but that she was not “okay” with him yet. He did not seem to quite understand why a woman that he had viciously campaigned against for years would not accept his apology. But, he “never called her fat”.

Earlier, he could not recall if he sued one of his former masseuses, because “we sued so many people”.

We wanted to see a broken man, a human being. Instead we got a slick PR machine that seems out for himself. No one knows exactly why he finally decided to bare his “heart”; some say that he wants to ingratiate himself in the hearts of sports fans. Others suggest that he wants to get back into sport after having his lifetime ban reduced to the eight-year minimum. Whatever the motivation, it didn’t seem to be out of pure human decency.

The disgraced cyclist, stripped of his seven Tour de France victories, gave the bare minimum. He allowed few details and declined questions that involved others, avoiding the real meat of the doping conspiracy questions.

Throughout the broadcast, Twitter exploded with comments, some calling him a sociopath, others saying it was impossible to believe anything that came out of his mouth. I was disappointed to find myself agreeing, sometimes too uncomfortable to look directly at the screen.

As a lifelong cycling fan (the Tour was like the Super Bowl throughout my childhood), I wanted to believe he was sorry. I wanted to hear Armstrong say that he had ruined the sport’s reputation after building it up in the States.

Instead I got what I already knew deep down. He’s a ruthless competitor, desperate to win at all costs and be worshipped as a hero. I’ll keep tracking his career, but now that we’ve seen the true Lance, there is no turning back.