Saying his “mythic, perfect story” was “one big lie,” Lance Armstrong admitted to taking banned drugs and blood transfusions throughout his legendary cycling career, including during all seven of his Tour de France victories.
In confessing to talk-show host Oprah Winfrey in an interview that aired Thursday night, Armstrong acknowledged, “This is too late. It’s too late for probably most people, and that’s my fault.”
He told Winfrey that he took banned drugs and that his “cocktail” to gain an edge was EPO, blood transfusions using his own boosted blood, and testosterone.
Armstrong disputed, however, that he doped during his comeback in 2009 and 2010, saying the last time he “crossed the line” with banned substances was in 2005.
But Armstrong did feel his return to cycling also gave anti-doping officials a chance to build the case against him. “We wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t come back,” he said.
After denying the doping allegations for so long, Armstrong, 41, said he failed to tell the truth because he got swept up in the “momentum” of his own legend. He was the cancer survivor turned superhero, the squeaky clean rider waving the American flag in victory.
“It just gets going and I lost myself in all that,” Armstrong said.
He also said he didn’t think he could compete if he didn’t turn to doping because doping was so pervasive in cycling. “I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture,” Armstrong said
The 90-minute broadcast was taped Monday in Austin, Texas, Armstrong’s hometown. A second portion of the interview will air Friday night.
It marked the cyclist’s first extended public comments since the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released more than 1,000 pages of doping evidence against him October. The evidence included sworn statements from former teammates and friends who detailed how and when he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong also apologized for the tactics he used against witnesses and critics as he tried to preserve the cover-up. “Yeah, I was a bully,” he said.
At one point, when Winfrey asked him if he had sued Emma O’Reilly, a former team masseuse who spoke truthfully of doping on the team, Armstrong wasn’t sure. “To be honest, we sued so many people,” he said.
Armstrong said he recognizes that after he was so defiant in the face of doping allegations for years, “I’m not the most believable guy in the world right now, I understand.”