After years of denying the allegations, the star sat down and admitted he doped throughout his career in a candid chat with Oprah Winfrey, which aired in the U.S. on Thursday night (17Jan13).
The interview kicked off with Winfrey asking a series of ‘yes and no’ questions about the accusations Armstrong had vehemently shut down over the years, including whether he used banned performance-enhancing drug Erythropoietin (EPO), testosterone, human growth hormone, cortisone and blood transfusions to improve his chances of winning races. Armstrong answered ‘yes’ to all of the questions.
He also insisted he would not have been able to win seven Tour De France titles had he not doped.
Opening up more about his illegal activities, Armstrong revealed, “My cocktail was EPO, transfusions and testosterone”, adding that he began taking cortisone early in his career before beginning his “EPO era” in the mid-1990s. He won his first Tour De France championship in 1999.
Asked why he has chosen to come clean now after lying about his drug use for so long, and challenging those who accused him of doping, Armstrong told Winfrey he did not have the answer, but he stated, “This is too late for probably most people and that’s my fault. I view this situation as one big lie that I’ve repeated a lot of times.”
The cancer survivor added, “The story was perfect for so long… You overcame the disease, you win the Tour De France seven times, you have a happy marriage, you have children…”
Calling himself “a flawed character”, Armstrong continued, “I didn’t invent the culture (of doping), but I didn’t try to stop the culture.”
He went on to apologise for duping his fans and the sporting world, stating, “I made my decisions. They’re my mistake. And I’m sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that.”
But he denied suggestions he pushed and bullied his teammates into doping, adding, “The idea that anybody (on my team) was forced or encouraged is not true… I’m out of the business of calling somebody a liar… (but) that is not true.”
The 41 year old has already been stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles and the bronze medal he won at the Sydney Games in 2000. He has also been kicked out of the sport.