Lance Armstrong is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in Austin,
Texas, in this handout photo courtesy of Harpo Studios.
REUTERS/Harpo Studios, Inc/George Burns/Handout
Lance Armstrong has finally confessed to using
performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career,
admitting he cheated to win all seven of his Tour de France
Describing himself as a "bully" and a "deeply flawed
character", Armstrong ended years of denials by revealing his
darkest secrets in an interview with talk show host Oprah
Winfrey at his hometown of Austin, Texas.
In the opening question of the televised interview recorded
three days earlier, one word was all it took to dismiss any
remaining doubt his success on the bike was fuelled by
"Yes," he replied when asked directly whether he used
performance enhancing drugs.
True to her word, Winfrey rapidly fired probing questions at
Armstrong, offering him little respite and grilling him about
every aspect of his tainted career.
Without any hesitation, and showing no signs of emotion,
Armstrong replied "yes" to a series of questions about
whether he used specific drugs, including erythropoietin,
human growth hormone and blood doping.
Asked why he had repeatedly lied about using banned
substances until today's startling admission, he told
Winfrey: "I don't know I have a great answer.
"This is too late, probably for most people, and that's my
fault. I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a
lot of times.
"It's not as if I said no and moved off it. While I've lived
through this process, I know the truth. The truth isn't what
I said and now its gone."
A cancer survivor who inspired millions with what had seemed
like a fairytale career, Armstrong said he did not believe he
could have achieved what he did without breaking the rules
due to the culture of drugs in cycling.
"Not in that generation. I didn't invent the culture, but I
didn't try to stop the culture," he said.
"It's hard to talk about the culture. I don't want to accuse
anyone else. I'm here to acknowledge my mistakes."
He said he never considered himself to be a cheat and was
sure he would get away with it, until out of competition
tests were introduced and testing procedures dramatically
'LEVEL PLAYING FIELD'
The last time he cheated was in 2005, when he won his seventh
Tour de France on the streets on Paris. He made a comeback in
2009 but said he never used drugs again.
"I looked up the definition of a cheat to gain an advantage.
I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing
field," he said.
Armstrong's admission came just months after the US
Anti-Doping Agency released a detailed report describing him
as the ringmaster of the "most sophisticated,
professionalized and successful doping program that sport has
While he confessed to cheating and bullying, he denied
several of the other accusations that have been made against
He rejected suggestions he failed a doping test at the 2001
Tour Of Switzerland then paid off the International Cycling
Union (UCI) and doping officials to cover up the result.
"That story isn't true. There was no positive test. No paying
off of the lab. The UCI did not make that go away. I'm no fan
of the UCI," he said.
Armstrong said he thought he had got away with it when he
retired for good in 2011 but his downfall was triggered by a
two-year federal investigation that was dropped but led to
the USADA probe.
He has already been banned for life, stripped of his all race
wins and dumped by his sponsors but his problems are far from
On Thursday, hours before the interview went to air, the
International Olympic Committee stripped him of the bronze
medal he won at the 2000 Games.
And as a result of his confession, the 41-year-old Texan now
faces the prospect of various legal challenges and orders to
repay some of the million of dollars he earned from his
"I thought I was out of the woods," he said.
"I just assumed the stories would continue for a long time.
We're sitting here because there was a two-year federal