Armstrong's Interview With Oprah Part Of Plan To Rehab Image, Re-Enter Public Life
Cyclist Lance Armstrong by “finally admitting to the use of performance-enhancing drugs” is following a “calculated plan to rehabilitate his image and pave the way for a comeback in public life,” according to sources cited by Brent Schrotenboer of USA TODAY. Armstrong “hopes his planned confession to Oprah Winfrey today will start a multiyear healing process in which history will end up judging him more favorably because of his work fighting cancer and because he dominated cycling in an era when doping was the norm.” By confessing after years of denials, Armstrong “also hopes to reduce distractions about the controversy" for the Livestrong cancer charity (USA TODAY, 1/14). In a separate piece, Schrotenboer notes Armstrong “does not expect to regain sponsors anytime soon by confessing now.” He also “doesn’t expect to resume his athletic career anytime soon after being banned for life.” He “doesn’t even expect to sign a book deal right away, though there will be offers for that.” N.Y.-based business attorney Brian Socolow said, “He appears to be gambling that the public will ultimately forgive him and he will be able to rehabilitate his image and earning potential.” Schrotenboer notes re-entering the public arena with a confession “could lead to future income opportunities such as book deals, speaking engagements, sponsorships and even competition -- all opportunities that would not be as likely or as successful without an admission” (USA TODAY, 1/14).
LIVESTRONG AND PROSPER: In N.Y., Stephanie Saul writes a front-page piece under the header, “Armstrong’s Business Brand, Bound Tight With His Charity.” An examination of Livestrong “shows the degree to which the charity, Mr. Armstrong’s business interests and those of his associates have long been intertwined.” While Armstrong’s celebrity “fed the charity, the charity also enhanced his marketability.” Interviews and data show that Livestrong also “engaged in some deals that appeared to have benefited him and his associates.” Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman said that the foundation has “reduced its budget by 11 percent for this year but expected many of its donors would remain loyal.” Ulman said, “In the long run, I think the organization is going to be incredibly strong because the cause is so important” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/14). ESPN's Buster Olney wrote on his Twitter feed, "Let's hope that a high-profile figure steps into the vacuum of cancer research/awareness that will be created this week. There clearly is much passion to help folks suffering from cancer, and Livestrong always provided outlet for that. Another may be needed" (TWITTER.com, 1/14).
COMING CLEAN: The AP’s Jim Vertuno reported Armstrong was scheduled to sit down today “for what has been trumpeted as a ‘no-holds barred,’ 90-minute, question-and-answer session” with Winfrey. Winfrey and her crew will “film the interview at Armstrong's home and broadcast it Thursday on the Oprah Winfrey Network.” Armstrong wrote in a text on Saturday, "I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I'll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That's all I can say” (AP, 1/13).