Lance Armstrong is coming clean about his decision to use performance-enhancing drugs during his storied career as one of the world’s most iconic cyclists.
In a much-anticipated sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired Thursday, Jan. 18, cycling’s former golden boy admitted to doping throughout his career, including each of his seven Tour de France wins.
During the intense interview, Winfrey grilled Armstrong, 41, with a number of questions concerning the pressures of fame, his decision to use drugs, and how he will apologize to the many people he retaliated against in his climb to the top.
“I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times,” Armstrong admitted to Winfrey. “I know the truth. The truth isn’t what was out there. The truth isn’t what I said.”
“I’m a flawed character, as I well know,” he continued. “All the fault and all the blame here falls on me.”
The disgraced cyclist also admitted that he didn’t consider his decision to take performance-enhancing drugs “cheating” at the time — rather, it was simply a way to create a “level playing field” since so many of his fellow competitors were also doping.
(Armstrong declined to name specific dates, people, and locations where the illicit drug use took place.)
He did, however, detail the “cocktail” that he used before competitions: A mixture of EPO, blood transfusions and testosterone. He also previously used cortisone.
“I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture,” Armstrong said, by way of trying to explain his behavior.
The cyclist claimed that he stopped using drugs in 2005, and competed in the Tours de France in 2009 and 2010 completely drug-free. He placed third in 2009 and 23rd in 2010.
The reason Armstrong refused to come clean before, he said, was because he got caught up in the “momentum” of his fame and popularity as an American treasure, a superhero who could do no wrong.
“It just gets going and I lost myself in all that,” he told Winfrey.
Armstrong did have a bone to pick with former teammate Tyler Hamilton’s claim, however, that he had failed a drug test during the Tour de Suisse in 2001, and then paid off the International Cycling Union to keep the results under wraps.
“I’m gonna tell you what’s true and not true,” he said, insisting that the UCI was the one who approached him for a donation. “That story is not true. No positive test, no paying off the lab, no secret meeting with the lab director.”
But when addressing reports that he was ruthless in his determination to uphold his squeaky-clean image, Armstrong was a bit more cautious in his answers.
“There was never a directive” that the other members of his team had to take the drugs with him, he clarified, though he confessed: “I was a bully. I tried to control the narrative.”
“At the time did it not feel wrong?” Winfrey asked incredulously.
“No,” Armstrong replied. “Scary.”
The second part of the 90-minute broadcast will be shown on Friday, Jan. 19, on the OWN Network.
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