Oprah Winfrey has revealed startling details about her interview with disgraced former cyclist Lance Armstrong, during which he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs after a decade of denial.
In an interview with CBS This Morning, which aired this morning, Winfrey unwrapped what happened when she sat down with Armstrong at a hotel in his home town of Austin, Texas on Monday. Original plans to tape it at Armstrong’s home were changed at the last minute.
During the highly anticipated “no holds barred”interview, the former seven times Tour de France winner admitted to doping, but Winfrey says it wasn’t in the way she expected.
Yesterday, shortly after her interview with Armstrong, Winfrey tweeted:
“Just wrapped with @lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours . He came READY!”
Winfrey said Armstrong complied with her request that the no lawyers would be present during in the interview, but said he did have a “team” around him in the interview room.
She went on to say: “I would say he did not come clean in the manner that I expected, it was surprising to me,” adding that she and her production crew “were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers.”
However, Winfrey also said Armstrong “answered the questions in a way that he was ready” and that she was “satisfied” with the answers he gave.
Ahead of what was a two and a half hour interview with the disgraced former cyclist, the 58-year-old veteran television host said she prepared for the interview it like it was a “college exam.”
Her research material included the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report which leveled numerous allegations against Armstrong, and last week’s 60 minute Sports interview with USADA CEO Travis Tygart in which Tygart said he received death threats while investigating Armstrong, CBS News reports.
Bringing a total of 112 questions to the table, Winfrey said she wasn’t able to ask all of them but that the most important ones that people “around the world” want answered — were.
The host also told CBS that “emotional doesn’t begin to describe” the intensity and difficulty Armstrong experienced during the interview, while noting that he was “forthcoming.”
In what sounds like a rare light moment during their encounter, Winfrey said that during a taping break Armstrong asked, “Will there be a point where you would lighten up? What about the questions about my mom and how was my run today?”
Winfrey added that by the end of the interview both she and Armstrong were “exhausted,” but said the former cyclist champion “met the moment.”
The host also disclosed that she had agreed with outlets not to reveal that Armstrong had confessed to doping, but the story broke before she landed back in Chicago after leaving Austin.
In the CBS interview Winfrey refused to reveal whether she thought Armstrong was “contrite,” saying that she would rather people drew their own conclusions.
She also revealed that she “hand-carried the [interview] tapes along with my dog food and dog leashes” back to her Chicago HARPO headquarters because she didn’t trust sending the tapes digitally.
Due to the length of the interview, Winfrey said it will now air over two nights instead of one because she didn’t want to leave anything on the “cutting room floor.”
Describing her meeting with Armstrong as the “biggest interview I’ve ever done in terms of exposure,” she compared the level of hype and worldwide interest in it to her 1993 sit-down with the late Michael Jackson.
Asked why she thought the under-fire sportsman had chosen to speak now, Winfrey said she thought “he was just ready,” adding that she thought the “velocity of everything that’s come at him” in the last few months had played a role.
News of Armstrong’s admission has led to reports that the US Justice Department is likely to join a whistleblower lawsuit filed against Armstrong by former teammate Floyd Landis, The Associated Press reports.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the False Claims Act lawsuit could result in Armstrong paying millions of dollars back to the government. The deadline for the Justice department to make their decision is Thursday, but they can apply for an extension if necessary.
Armstrong is currently in discussions with the Justice Department to return some of the millions in taxpayer dollars that he received on behalf of his US Postal Service team. However, an attorney told AP, the two sides have yet to agree on the amount.
The first part of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Armstrong is expected to air on Thursday on her OWN network and will be livestreamed around the world.