Liv Boeree Analyzes Lance Armstrong's Doping Admission

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2013. January 23.
The British paper The Telegraph asked Liv Boeree, PokerStars pro to analyze Lance Armstrong's interview With Oprah. You can read her opinion below.
The news sparked a major upheaval in the world of sports recently: Lance Armstrong admitted to having used performance-enhancing drugs in Oprah Winfrey's talkshow.

A part of the interview:



The interview is still getting much attention today, mostly because despite the confession, Armstrong could have lied about several things. For example, many believe he lied when he said he did not use any banned measures during the 2009 and 2010 Tour de France, as the authorities conducting the investigation claim they have evidence he did receive blood transfusion.

The Telegraph asked two experts on the matter, Andy Lane, Sports Psychologist of the Wolverhampton University and Liv Boeree, pro poker player.

The EPT San Remo champion provided the following analysis:

As a poker player it’s my job to make decisions about a situation based upon incomplete information, much of which comes from whatever “story” someone is telling me through non-verbal communication.

I’m usually not listening to what is coming out of someone’s mouth, instead I am looking to see what their body is telling me through physical tells. When watching the interview with Lance my first impression is of his nervousness and tension.
Of course he’s understandably apprehensive about the interview. His posture is fixed; he’s visibly tensed through his shoulders and core and barely shifts from that throughout the entire interview. His fingers are usually tightly interlaced, a method of controlling oneself.

At the poker table it’s important to observe people both during but also before and after a high pressure situation. Are they tensed and anxious throughout, or only during the hands themselves? Most tellingly, do they only show signs of nervousness during some hands?

With Lance, there are some questions where he shows significantly more discomfort and tension than others.

Most notably is when Oprah asks whether he pressured his teammates into doping and then references his team mate Christian Vande Velde’s statement of Lance threatening him. Lance pauses to think and then voraciously denies the accusation. He also shows a possible sign of contempt with a split-second lip pursing, and also struggles to maintain eye-contact just after his denial. Oftentimes in poker, the face tries to portray one feeling but short, instinctual movements known as micro-expressions can reveal their true emotions.

My opinion is that Lance, whilst admitting some incredibly hard and damaging truths after years of ingrained lying, has not given Oprah or the public an entirely open or complete set of answers. He’s clearly prepped himself for the most difficult questions and is giving carefully crafted and highly controlled messages.

When someone is bluffing with chips, their actions are often stilted and visibly precise, with a notable pause to think before they are carried out. Look for his responses that don’t appear to flow naturally; these are the ones that should require further examination.


Liv Boeree
Liv Boeree

Armstrong was stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles and was banned from cycling for life. His 2000 Sydney bronze olypic medal was also taken by the National Olympic Committe after the interview.

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