Lance Armstrong wasted no time in admitting to taking performance-enhancing drugs throughout his cycling career when he sat down with Oprah Winfrey Thursday night on the OWN Network.
Most Fascinating Q&A Moments
The interview started with a bang as Oprah immediately made clear that Lance had given her no restrictions as far as subject matter, and she began with a rapid-fire succession of yes or no questions about specific performance-enhancing substances. Let’s just say she didn’t get any “no” answers to these questions, as Armstrong admitted to using a wide array of drugs in all of his Tour de France competitions.
When faced with the question of why he is finally admitting the drug use now, after denying it so vehemently for so many years, Lance hemmed and hawed a bit. He politely deflected that he should have come clean sooner, but he didn’t want to spoil his impossibly perfect image. Oprah cleverly pointed out that he took part in creating that image, and he agreed, shrinking into his chair uncomfortably.
He adopted a very defensive body posture, legs crossed, shoulders hunched, and hands often covering his mouth. Oprah confronted Lance with information revealed by his former teammate Tyler Hamilton, who indicated in his book that the team had used code words for the drugs, including veiled references to Edgar Allen Poe, and that there was a complicated cover-up system. When asked to explain the scheme, Armstrong admitted to a cocktail of EPO, transfusions, and testosterone, the latter partially justified in his mind by his history of testicular cancer.
Oprah then pressed Lance on claims that other members of the cycling team were pressured to do drugs in order to remain on the team. He viewed a clear difference between an affirmative direction to a teammate, which he claimed not to have given, and leading by example, which he owned. He admitted to being a lifelong bully of sorts with a need to control and fight his way through every situation.
When confronted with videotaped testimony of himself stating that he never used drugs and that alleged doping mastermind Dr. Michele Ferrari was innocent of the scheme, Lance at first resisted discussing other people, but he agreed that the association with Dr. Ferrari was reckless. As to his own actions, Oprah was flabbergasted when Lance claimed that he did not feel at the time that he was cheating, he did not feel badly or guilty for using the drugs to win. Only now, according to Lance, is he beginning to understand the magnitude of his actions on the public, and the true depth of how hurt, angry, and betrayed his fans feel.
Lance’s Confession Highlights
He admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs to increase his cycle performance, including EPO, blood doping, and other substances like testosterone and cortisone.
He admitted to using these substances in all seven of his Tour de France victories.
The lack of out of competition testing helped him to avoid detection with careful chemical scheduling.
He insisted that the last time he “crossed the line” of doping or blood transfusions was 2005, and he did not do either during his comeback in 2009 and 2010.
He compared using the drugs to putting air in the bike’s tires or water in their bottles – in his view, the drugs were equally necessary for success in the Tour de France.
He admitted to being deeply flawed, both a “jerk” and a humanitarian, who is currently paying the price for his own actions.
Lance’s masseuse Emma O’Reilly’s story about Lance and company backdating a prescription to cover up a positive drug test was true, even though at the time Lance sued her for defamation.
He repeatedly lied under oath about drug use.
Tune in to the OWN Network tomorrow night at 9:00 pm ET to see the conclusion to Oprah’s interview with Lance.