Media speculation has been that disgraced pro cyclist Lance Armstrong, once the winner of a record seven consecutive Tours de France, will admit to doping at his upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey on Thursday, January 17th.
However, it now appears that his admission may in fact be far more shocking and unexpected. According to an Oprah TV producer, Armstrong has already confided to the famous talk show host that his battle with cancer was a fabrication.
“It came out in the pre-production phone call,” said Steve Maydup. “Oprah was questioning Lance about doping and cancer and he says the whole thing was faked. I think he got a kick out of freaking everybody. The room got pretty quiet.”
Armstrong’s lawyer Tim Herman issued an immediate rebuttal, stating there is “no truth to that story.” Phone calls made to Oprah’s OWN network to confirm the allegation of a cancer hoax were not returned. Maydup has since been removed from the production team and was not available for further comment.
The possibility that Armstrong faked his entire cancer story sent shockwaves thought a sport already shaken by the damning evidence presented in the USADA Reasoned Decision.
Respected cycling commentator Phil Liggett was nearly speechless with dismay. “I’ve known Lance for a long time. Whenever I asked him about his cancer, he always looked me in the eye and said it nearly killed him. I believed Lance,” said Liggett.
Travis Tygart, the CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, said he was “stunned” to learn the news. “We had no idea — we uncovered the most professional doping program in sports but he fooled us on that one,” said Tygart. “I have to give him credit for that.”
However, some critics were not surprised to learn that Armstrong’s amazing and inspirational cancer story was untrue. “Lance wanted to be the biggest star in sports so he invented the greatest story in sports,” said Orson Wellers, a movie executive at Fox Sports. “Winning seven tours just gets a few thousand cycling fans excited, the cancer angle elevates him into a global legend.”
When contacted by journalists, Armstrong biographer Sally Jenkins refused to be drawn into the “cancer hoax” story. “I’m not mad at Lance. And 25 years of writing about champions has convinced me that they are indeed, very, very different from you and me, and their qualities are often dark.”
The possibility that Armstrong built his sporting legend on a medical fabrication surprised even long time critic Betsy Andreu. “Lance doesn’t do anything without considering Lance first, and only Lance. He is always the center of the story,” said Andreu. “But I didn’t expect this. I mean, Frankie and I were in the room at the hospital. That was pretty clever of him.”
Cancer oncologist Craig Nichols, the doctor largely credited with saving Armstrong’s life, has issued the following statement thru Virginia Mason University: “Any statement that Lance Armstrong did not have testicular cancer is false and outrageous. I am deeply disappointed that anyone should have reason to doubt Lance’s medical condition during the time of his treatment for testicular cancer.”
The Armstrong interview with Oprah has already received a tremendous amount of hype. Now the deepening mystery about exactly what Armstrong will admit has guaranteed a huge audience. “This is exactly what Oprah wants, the whole emotional breakdown, made-for-TV tears, one of the most famous athletes in history baring his soul and telling his darkest truth,” said Max Raytings, a media analyst for Omnivision. “The doping confession is small potatoes and really, it’s old news. The cancer hoax, that’s the kind of media event that puts Oprah back on top of the Hollywood A-list.”
However, one cynical media analyst sees this leak as further evidence of “back room deals” between Orpah executives and the Armstrong camp. “The cancer hoax is itself a hoax, but a strategic one,” said Charles Menkin, who teaches Media Ethics at the University of California at Berkeley. “Oprah’s people are using it as a threat to get Armstrong to give a full doping confession. They’re saying ‘Look, Lance, you tell Oprah everything and we won’t bring up this fake story we’ve concocted that’s even more embarrassing.’ These kinds of strong-arm deals happen all the time.”
This latest twist in the long and strange Lance Armstrong saga has everyone bewildered and confused. Jamie Fuller, the SKINS marketing exec and front man of Change Cycling Now, responded to the news with his trademark candor. “What the f**k? I mean, f**k me, Jesus Christ, what the f**k is going on in this sport?”