If for no other reason, Lance Armstrong's on-air confession, that he used blood transfusions, EPO, Cortisone, hGH, and testosterone throughout his professional cycling career is important in helping many turn a page.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

Hearing the man himself speak the words 'yes' and 'no' frankly and nervously exhaled in response to Oprah Winfrey's questions must have sealed the deal for those few still stuck in the stubborn disbelief that the Texan did win the Tour as they Spanish say, pan y agua, 'on bread and water'.

We know Armstrong can be a good actor, a charmer, an orator, but the way he squirmed in his chair, clearly agitated, looking pale, grey and older, gave me hope that this would be the real deal. He looked exposed. He looked weaker.

This wasn't the arrogant, brash Armstrong that stood confidently on the Champs Elysees in 2005, telling an audience of millions across the world on TV and live watching in France that he "felt sorry" for those that doubted him and his performances.

The man that used Nike to sell the image of clean performance with the catchline, "what am I on?" The man that intimidated, pressured and destroyed people around him; riders, journalists, employees and anyone and everyone that dared to challenge him.

It appeared, if only briefly, that Armstrong was ready to bring the truth and catharsis that we could savour.

But what the opening sortie promised was hopelessly let down in the rest of the near one-and-a-half hour exclusive which fizzled as the strength of the questions, and the absence of adequate probing from Oprah allowed Armstrong to appear almost comfortable by the end.

That was disappointing. In an interview that was supposedly to have no limits, "no holds barred" as was claimed in the pre-promotion, the fact that Armstrong was unwilling to name names, unwilling to talk in detail about information that is already in the public domain, and unwilling to show even a small bit of contrition, was a let down.

What right does Armstrong have to feel uncomfortable about speaking about others who have been complicit in this conspiracy when he's been so quick to damn those in the past that tried to pull the mat from under him? The man is without credibility and doesn't have a leg to stand on, so why is he dictating conditions of the interview to Oprah?

I'll admit feeling a little exasperated, but let's go on, shall we.

Some of the bull dust...

"The idea that anyone was forced or encouraged to dope, is not true." Yeah, actually it is.

The sworn affidavits in USADA's reasoned decision say otherwise, and who are we more likely to believe? Riders felt that they would lose employment with the team if they didn't dope. New Zealander Stephen Swart was the first to suggest as much after he was let go at the end of the 1995 season, but he wasn't the last, simply the start of a long-line of people over the years that have exactly contradicted Armstrong's 'true' testimony.

Probed on whether he told oncologists at the Indiana University Hospital on October 27, 1996, that he had taken PEDs, he refused to answer. I'm sure Betsy Andreu, who has been vilified for her testimony of that incident, was unimpressed. Armstrong was happy to call her a liar, and crazy in the past, but was unwilling to simply state the truth of the matter to a global audience.

Did you dope in your comeback in 2009? No I did not.

Do we take that comment on face value? Again, why should we. USADA's dossier on Armstrong says it has strong evidence that the Texan doped in 2009 and 2010. Analysis done by Professor Chris Gore reports a "less than one in a million chance" Armstrong did not conduct blood manipulation in 2009 and 2010. Where was the follow up question Oprah? Is it only a little bit suspect that Armstrong is looking to return to triathlon as soon as possible, and a back-dated eight-year ban not including his comeback would finish in 2013? Very convenient.

"I will spend the rest of my life trying to re-earn the trust of people. For the rest of my life."

Perhaps the biggest problem with everything Armstrong said was that it was impossible to differentiate between moments of truth, and calculated deceptions. We know Armstrong's crack legal team is in the process of furious behind the scenes negotiations with several authorities to make deals. Too much felt scripted, in some last bid to keep his head above water. The only bankable truth we got was that he used PEDs. We didn't get information on trafficking, on corruption, blackmail, on the misuse of federal funds, and it's possible that we'll never get those answers.

I must admit going into the interview I had hoped Armstrong would go down all guns blazing, Battle of the Alamo style, naming all those involved, all the stakeholders, and all the organisations in a bid to finally clean up cycling and to allow the sport to move on. In hindsight, that was naive.

There's more to come of course tomorrow, but considering what we saw today, I am struggling to envisage gaining much insight from any answers he'll provide in round two. For me Armstrong is officially irrelevant. Let's get on with it.