Lance Armstrong, a legend in bicycle racing, for more reasons than one, has agreed to be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. That will be televised Jan 17 on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which is actually a pretty fitting moniker for her cable channel. That girl owns a whole bunch of stuff.
Many have surmised that Armstrong will finally "come clean", admit to all his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs, disallowed blood transfusions, and other shenanigans while winning all those Tour de France titles. He might even break down, cry, and beg for forgiveness.
Don't count on it.
Why? Because Armstrong would have to be crazy to do such a thing. Armstrong may or may not be a lot of things -- but unless he's gone off the deep end in the last few days -- he's no fool, by a long shot.
If Armstrong were to say he was guilty of the storm of allegations that have been directed his way for the last several years -- having been stripped of his titles, lost sponsors, and even been forced out of the cancer research foundation he himself established would be the least of his worries. Nor would how he was perceived by the court of public opinion be relevant. He's already been convicted there.
Because if he did that, various civil law suits against him would likely quickly follow. It's been estimated Lance is worth about $100 million right now. Some of those very same sponsors that once showered him with money would claim they had been duped, and never would have put that money up in the first place if they knew Armstrong was a "doper". They'd want their money back -- plus interest. Armstrong would have no defense, having already admitted to the crimes. By the time the lawyers got done carving him up, that $100 million would probably go poof in a hurry.
That would be bad enough, but there's something much worse. If Armstrong fesses up now, tears and heartfelt apology or not, he'd expose himself to perjury charges. Sure, people lie in courtrooms every day all over the country, but both prosecutors and defense attorneys usually let that slide, because it's not worth the time and energy to pursue it -- and damn tough to prove, as well.
Such would not be the case for Armstrong. Having battled the mighty feds and an international agency to a draw over several years, they'd go back after him with guns blazing, and have plenty of his own previous statements on record as evidence to back it up. Sometimes perjury is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. And it's probably a pretty safe bet to say the once foiled persecutors would be going for the max.
In a way, it's like the OJ Simpson saga. What he did in Vegas wasn't all that big of a deal, but he'll probably never get out of prison. Why? Because the powers-that-be were looking for a reason -- ANY reason -- to nail him, after they were embarrassed the first time around. Once he was dumb enough to give them one, they probably gobbled a handful of Viagra and headed off to court with the resulting, ahem, attitude. They finally had their man over a barrel.
Yours truly never got caught up in all the PED mania anyway. Some guys used, some didn't, and it will never all be definitively sorted out. It was a sign of the times, like others that have come and gone before. In my opinion, dwelling on such things serves no purpose other than to jack up one's own blood pressure. It happened, and now it's over. Let's move on.
But I doubt the prosecutors would have the same altruistic outlook if Lance tells Oprah what many people think he will.
Those good ole Texas boys, like guys named Clemens, or even Bush and Cheney, usually aren't too quick to get in line with the rest of the herd being marched off to the slaughterhouse.
And I'd be highly surprised if Lance Armstrong puts himself in the same position.
Surely, he's a little wilier than OJ -- right?