Strictly embargoed by OWN Network until January 17th…
Oprah: You are very good friends with Robin Williams?
Lance: (hangs head in obvious shame, mumbles) Eh, I suppose I am, I mean, I was.
Oprah: Did he have anything to do with this?
Lance: (regaining composure) Have you ever met him Oprah?
Oprah: (putting on best exasperated school marm face) I have, oh I have.
Lance: I mean he’d drive anybody to do drugs. It’s the only way you can tolerate hanging out with him. You know how often he breaks into that Mork voice?
Oprah: (reaching across, touching his hand, feeling his pain) I understand. I understand.
On the screen behind, footage plays of Oprah campaigning with Barack and Michelle Obama. She turns wistfully to take in the images then turns back to Lance.
Oprah: Let me ask you about George W. Bush.
Lance: I wish somebody would.
Oprah: You guys seemed to go cycling a lot together?
Lance: Cycling in every sense of the word.
Oprah: (completely missing the drug reference) Did he have anything to do with this?
Lance: Well, I’m not here to point the finger at anybody else but…
Oprah: (leaning out of the chair, obviously excited) But….
Lance: Have you seen the calves on the guy? I just couldn’t keep up with him on his damned mountain bike (He pauses to dab at his tears). I went back to France after riding with him at his ranch, knowing I was going to have to take drastic measures to stay competitive.
Oprah: Bush drove you to it?
(Lance nods head, unable to speak through the tears of laughter streaming down his face.)
Oprah: I’m sorry to put you through this Lance. Let’s ask you some softer questions, like, who is your favourite writer?
Lance: (suppressing giggles) Edgar Allan Poe.
Oprah: Wow, I love him too. What is it you like about him?
Lance: (digging his nails into his skin to stop himself from breaking up with laughter) Oh, he’s the one to get the blood pumping.
Oprah: See, this is the part of the story your detractors miss. That you are inspired by great American writers just as much as by the world’s greatest chemists…
Lance: (wide-eyed, incredulous, stuttering) If…if…they only knew
Oprah: What part did Sheryl Crow play in your downfall?
Lance: (pursing lips, furrowing brow) Well, again, I don’t want to point the finger of blame. That’s not why I’m here (puts hand over his mouth suddenly to suppress laughter)
Oprah: (doing her best serious journalist impression) You were using steroids before you and her hooked up though?
Lance: (shifting uneasily in his seat) Yeah but I upped the dosage after we started dating. Seriously.
Lance: I couldn’t take hearing her sing about them paving paradise and putting up that parking lot any more. You know how often she sang that damned song. Like all day every day. One night she was singing it in the shower and I picked up the phone and called my doping doctor in Italy and told him I was going to need heavier stuff.
Oprah: (putting her hand on his shoulder, soothingly) I can only imagine what that must have been like…(she turns to the audience demanding and receiving a huge round of applause before continuing) I think people forget too that you didn’t come to this decision to cheat alone.
Lance: Absolutely not.
Oprah: Who made you do it? Are you ready to name names?
Lance: Well, again, I don’t like to spread the blame here. Ultimately it was all down to me but I was put under pressure by, let’s just say, outside forces.
Oprah: (leaning in closer as if expecting the headline grabbing answer) Such as…
Lance: Nike just kept sending me clothing containing subliminal messaging. Every day I’d stare at the syringe on the table and just when I’d think of not doing a dose, I’d open a package with a t-shirt saying, “Just do it!” The pressure became too much. There’s only so many times you can read that stuff and not react. I cracked.
Oprah: (walking over to clasp him in a bear hug) No shame in that. No shame.
Lance: (recovering his breath after lung-busting hug has winded him, speaking through exaggerated sniffles) Thank you for allowing me to share my pain
Oprah: When you look back at everything that happened, what are you most sorry about?
Lance: (nodding his head emphatically) Endorsing Michelob Ultra (he hangs his head in shame as he says the name).
Oprah: (taken aback) Really?
Lance: Have you ever tasted that stuff? It’s like bathwater. Trying to persuade the American people this was a real beer, well, that was unconscionable, maybe my biggest crime of all.
Oprah: I feel so bad that you’ve suffered like this. Can I ask you how much of what happened was down to you being in Europe?
Lance: I’m not one for making excuses but how about all of it?
Oprah: How so?
Lance: If I would have stayed in Texas, I would never have even seen a steroid or a performance-enhancing substance. I would have taken a different path and I might have turned into a 100 per cent pure winner like Roger Clemens.
Oprah: Those dastardly French made you do it then?
Lance: (suddenly perking up) And the Spanish too, they were pushing them on me also. And a few Germans, you know what they’re like. There was a definite element of a conspiracy to get the innocent American.
Oprah: (adopting the tone she uses to deliver sermons to her viewers) I think the story here is very different from what’s been reported. Essentially you are an innocent good old boy from Texas who was corrupted by malign foreign influences.
Lance: (barely able to speak through the giggles) I…I….I guess you could put it like that.