The drama of coming out and coming clean

The confession box has been rather busy this week. Lance Armstrong confessed to doping during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, and Jodie Foster confessed to being gay as part of her acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes.

There were some surprising similarities and subtle differences between the two confessions regarding coming clean and coming out.

Both chose to confess in a very public forum that would be projected on to television, computer and phone screens around the world in the blink of an eye.

Foster's coming out speech was oblique and rather than taking the opportunity to shout from the stage she was gay, she simply announced her single status, having separated from her partner of 20 years, Cydney Bernard.

She said: ''I already did my coming out about 1000 years ago, back in the Stone Age, those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers, and then gradually and proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met.''

Reactions to her speech have been mixed, with some finding it artfully put together and emotionally affecting, while others believe it's too little. After 47 years in the film industry, Foster's decision to keep her sexuality private seems understandable because she sees privacy as something precious to protect. Now she has seemingly decided to retire from acting, she let her guard down and used this soap box opportunity to remind her superstar colleagues of the value of privacy.

Like Foster, Armstrong has fought tooth and nail to keep some aspects of his life private, but if he had a choice he wouldn't be confessing at all.

Unlike Foster, he has been forced to confess as a result of being outed by Usada and his cycling colleagues. His confession may be just as vague as Foster's, with Oprah Winfrey suggesting he ''didn't come clean the way I expected''.

Perhaps he, like Foster, confessed in a cheeky, clever and artful way? Or did he reveal he used performance-enhancing drugs because he was forced to by the culture and environment of elite cycling?Will his confession bring a tear to the eye of other cyclists and athletes who knowingly use PEDs, and will it evoke sympathy and inspire non-doping athletes to tweet about their reactions in a public way?I doubt it. Very few felt short-changed by Foster for not revealing her sexuality earlier in her acting career, because, let's face it, acting is all about illusion.

Although also part of the entertainment industry, sport works hard to convince us all that it is real - with no script, no fake emotions, and no enhancements.

Armstrong has shattered that fantasy. For years he sold his story of achievement and resiliency based on willpower and determination to live strong and clean.

Like Foster, he has come clean to trusted friends and family and co-workers before going public. But, in typical Texan fashion, he has decided to confess in a way that is very dramatic.

He also may have taken this opportunity to deflect the accusing finger at the UCI rather than himself, so they'll be waiting nervously to see the interview revealed.

Maybe, like Foster, Armstrong is using this intense public interest to shed light on the ugly aspects of his industry. For Foster, it was the insane pressure to live all aspects of your life in the public arena with press conferences, and reality television. For Armstrong, perhaps it is the intense pressure athletes feel to live up to the expectation of others and to achieve the impossible.

What Oprah and her OWN network have done well is build up the anticipation and curiosity regarding the interview to such an extent they'll be making a lot of money from it.

Only in Hollywood could the confessions of actors and athletes make great entertainment and returns.

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