Lance Armstrong confesses to doping
Lance Armstrong finally confessed to using performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career on Thursday, admitting he cheated to win all seven of his Tour de France titles.
Describing himself as a “bully” and a “deeply flawed character”, Armstrong ended years of denials by revealing some of 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 fueled by doping.
“Yes,” he replied when asked directly whether he used performance enhancing drugs.
True to her word, Winfrey rapidly fired probing questions at Armstrong, offering little respite and grilling him about selected aspects of his tainted career. Winfrey, however, did not satisfy many viewers' request for deeper questions related to accusations related to bribing and fraud. These topics needed a professional journalist to probe deeper into what is a complicated story.
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 Thursday’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 improved.
Armstrong claimed 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.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), however, claims it has collected blood from Armstrong in 2009 and 2010 that is “fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.” Michael Ashenden, an Australian exercise physiologist specializing in blood doping, also disagrees with Armstrong's claim.
“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 claimed.
Armstrong’s admission came just months after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a detailed report describing him as the ringmaster of the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
While he confessed to cheating and bullying,