Sorry the hardest word for Armstrong
Cycling:The formerly defiant Lance Armstrong once said, "As long as I live, I will deny ever doping," but sitting face to face with Oprah Winfrey in an interview that was broadcast in the early hours of this morning, he reversed course. With Winfrey, he lost his icy stare and buried his cutting words. Looking nervous and swallowing hard several times, he admitted to using through most his cycling career a cocktail of drugs, including testosterone, cortisone, human growth hormone and the blood booster EPO.Yet, like always, Armstrong could not help fighting.
He called his doping regimen simple and conservative, rejecting volumes of evidence by the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) that the drug programme on his Tour de France-winning teams was "the most sophisticated, organised and professionalised" doping scheme in the history of cycling.
He said that he was not the kingpin of the doping programme on his teams, as the anti-doping agency claimed, and that he was just doping the way the rest of his teammates were at the time. He said he had doped, beginning in the mid-1990s, through 2005, the year he won his record seventh Tour. He said that he took EPO, but "not a lot," and that he had rationalised his use of testosterone because one of his testicles had been removed during his battle against cancer.
"I thought, surely I'm running low," he said of the banned testosterone he took to gain an edge in his performance.
At times during the interview, which will resume tonight, Armstrong seemed genuinely humble, admitting that he was "a flawed character" and that he would spend the rest of his life trying to apologise to people and regain their trust. "There will be people who hear this and never forgive me," he said. "I understand that."
But when asked about the people he had tried to crush while he tried to keep his doping secret - people like the former masseuse Emma O'Reilly or his former teammate Frankie Andreu and Andreu's wife, Betsy - he showed little contrition. Those are some of the people who claimed he had doped and whom he subsequently publicly claimed were liars. He had called O'Reilly a prostitute and an alcoholic.
In the interview, Armstrong acknowledged calling Betsy Andreu crazy. But with a suggestion of a smirk, he said he never claimed she was fat. He said he had been a bully his whole life, before contradicting himself a minute later, saying he became a bully only after he survived cancer and resumed his cycling career.
And when he said he never failed a drug test - saying, "I passed them because there was nothing in the system" - he contradicted himself again. When Winfrey asked if his urine samples from the 1999 Tour retroactively tested positive for EPO, he said yes. When she pressed him, he admitted that he received a backdated prescription from a team doctor after he tested positive for cortisone at the 1999 Tour.
Armstrong did not delve into the details of his doping, and Winfrey never asked. He did not explain how it was done, who helped him do it or how, exactly, he perpetuated his myth for so long. He said he was not comfortable talking about other people when asked about the infamous Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari, his former trainer, who is now serving a lifetime ban for doping his athletes.