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Prof. Fountain comments on Lance Armstrong’s Oprah Winfrey interview

Chuck Fountain

Road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong, who won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times after beating testicular cancer in the late 1990s, has reportedly admitted to using performance-​​enhancing drugs in an exclusive interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Part one of the two-​​part interview will air on at 9 p.m. EST Thursday night on the Oprah Winfrey Net work and will be simultaneously streamed live on Ophrah​.com. We asked a trio of experts to examine Armstrong’s apparent decision to come clean some 18 years after doping allegations initially surfaced.

Professor Fountain was ask: 

After the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a 1,000-page report accusing Armstrong of masterminding a doping scheme, one journalist remarked that Armstrong the cyclist was “the king—better at doping than he was at pretending to win bicycle races through grit and determination.” How do you think the media’s perception of Armstrong will change in the aftermath of his reported confession interview with Oprah?

Professor Fountain: While it is difficult to predict where a news story like this is going to go before any his interview with Oprah airs, one near certainty is that the Oprah interview will be one of the most watched and written-​​about news interviews in modern memory—think Nixon-​​Frost, absent the historical import. In the near term—however the Oprah story plays out—you’re likely to see a lot more of the self-​​righteous, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” comment from colum­nists and bloggers that we’ve been seeing since the USADA report came out last fall. And there’ll be ample opportunity for such comment because the spate of law suits promised and already filed is going keep Armstrong in the news for years to come.

Long-​​term, where this story goes depends largely on Armstrong. If he retreats behind the gates of his mansions in Texas and Hawaii, the story won’t move much from where it is right now. But his talking now suggests that he wants to continue to lead a public life, and his quest for redemption promises to be an even better story than the cancer-​​survivor, cancer-​​fighter, cycling-​​champion* chapters of his life were. We love stories of redemption—successful, failed, on going; it won’t matter at all from a news perspective. All will be irresistible, particularly with a celebrity of Armstrong’s magnitude.

Professor Fountain’s comments appear in “3Q’s What’s next for Lance Armstrong,” by Jason Kornwitz and appeared in “News @ Northeastern.”  The story also features Professor Roger Abrams, School of Law and Dan Libowitz, Sport in Society.  Read the entire story.>>