David Walsh, the journalist who almost single-handedly queried disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong’s remarkable comeback from cancer, has accepted the American’s apology. But he said he felt it hard to sympathise with him despite his confession.
Armstrong, who is being sued by Walsh’s newspaper paper the Sunday Times for more than £1 million ($1.6 million, 1.2 million euros) over a libel payment made to him in 2006, issued the apology during the second part of his interview with Oprah Winfrey on Friday. However, while Walsh accepted the apology, he tweeted that he didn’t know how sincere it was.
“Watching part 2 of Armstrong interview, he admits to feeling shamed and humbled. But why is it so difficult to empathise with his situation? “Oprah pressured him, the apology was, I thought, hesitantly promised. I didn’t ask for it, or expect it, but, yes, if its offered, I accept.”
The Sunday Times had earlier in the week taken out an advertisment in the Chicago Tribune with 10 questions they wanted Winfrey to ask Armstrong. The English newspaper picked the Chicago Tribune as it is in the city where Winfrey hosts her show on her OWN cable TV network to be broadcast on Thursday. Aside from the Sunday Times lawsuit, there is also a potential threat to Armstrong’s liberty, stemming from the fallen icon’s role in the US Postal Service team, where he spent his most successful years in the saddle.
Having been paid by the government, the former team leader could face criminal charges for making fraudulent statements to his bosses. He could also be accused of perjury over disclosures made under oath to a US federal jury in 2005. If convicted, each false statement could lead to five years in jail. Armstrong always maintained that he did not use banned substances during his stellar career, but the Sunday Times was one of the few publications to openly query his innocence.
The paper had to pay Armstrong £300,000 ($480,000 US, 362,000 Euros) to settle a libel case after previously suggesting that he may have cheated. The Sunday Times is reportedly demanding the return of the original settlement payment, along with interest and legal costs. The newspaper had long questioned Armstrong’s achievements and in 2004 it published an article stating that it was appropriate for questions about his success to be “posed and answered”.