Forward-thinking Armstrong's podcasts help him move on

AUSTIN (Texas) • Mack Brown was greeted by a big smile and an outstretched hand.

"Coach!" Lance Armstrong belted out to his afternoon visitor, welcoming Brown, the former football coach at the University of Texas, into his home.

Brown, 65, is the interview subject for Armstrong's weekly podcast, something the disgraced cyclist has been producing for the past four months.

For Armstrong, it is a new beginning. He calls the podcast "a gentle step out" and it is his first big public initiative since scandal upended his life.

Even the podcast's name - The Forward - evokes the idea that, after a difficult few years, Armstrong is trying to focus on what is in front of him.

"At this point I just have to move forward," he says. "A new business has to move forward; the conversation has to move forward.

"Everybody knows what happened. There's no need, I don't think, to go back over that again."

A quick reminder of what happened: Twenty years ago, Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer, which he beat. Seventeen years ago, he won his first Tour de France. Eleven years ago, he won his seventh. And 41/2 years ago, after finally admitting to doping throughout his cycling career, he lost everything.

He was banned from competition, was dropped by most of his sponsors, ousted from the Livestrong charity he founded and is being sued by the United States Department of Justice.

He did an apology tour, making countless phone calls and at least 10 road trips, though he has no illusions of total forgiveness.

"I just got to suffer this out," he says. And so now here he is, a 45-year-old father of five, a global icon re-inventing himself.

He started in June and is now 20 episodes in. It is already ranked as one of iTunes' top sports podcasts, though it is not really about sports.

The Forward is an interview programme that has no sponsors and no breaks. It is just Armstrong and his guest.

His interview subjects reflect the eclectic group of people who have floated through his universe. They have little in common.

He has interviewed musicians (Seal), authors (Malcolm Gladwell), politicians (Wendy Davis), athletes (Chris Evert), even a man who was imprisoned for a murder he says he did not commit.

While many podcasts are built around a specific interest, niche or subject matter, Armstrong's are tied together solely by him and his curiosities.

He is a fallen hero who is wounded as well as proud, still a bit baffled at how spectacularly everything had come undone and using this new outlet to figure out how exactly he can pick up the pieces.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2016, with the headline 'Forward-thinking Armstrong's podcasts help him move on'. Print Edition | Subscribe