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Lance Armstrong Admits Doping, Apologises

18 Jan 2013

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 Lance Armstrong


BBC

Lance Armstrong has admitted using performance-enhancing drugs during all seven of his Tour de France wins.

The 41-year-old made the admission during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, reports the BBC.

"I view this situation as one big lie I repeated a lot of times," he said. "I made those decisions, they were my mistake and I'm here to say sorry."

However the cyclist denied it was "sport's biggest doping programme", saying "it was smart, but it was conservative, risk averse".

After years of denials, Armstrong told Winfrey:

    he took performance-enhancing drugs in each of his Tour wins from 1999-2005
    doping was "part of the process required to win the Tour"
    he did not feel he was cheating at the time and viewed it as a "level playing field"
    he did not fear getting caught
    "all the fault and blame" should lie with him
    he was a bully who "turned on" people he did not like
    his cancer fight in the mid-1990s gave him a "win-at-all costs" attitude
    he would now co-operate with official inquiries into doping in cycling.

Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles last year after being labelled a "serial cheat" by the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada).

The body said he led "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme sport has ever seen".

The American decided not to contest the charges, saying last year he was tired of fighting the allegations. He had always strongly denied doping.

That all changed within seconds of an explosive opening to the interview when Winfrey demanded yes or no answers.

"Did you ever take banned substances to enhance cycling performance?"

"Yes."

"Was one of those substances EPO?"

"Yes."

"Did you use any other banned substances?"

"Yes."

Armstrong admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs Erythropoietin (EPO), testosterone, cortisone and human growth hormones as well as having blood transfusions.

He continued: "All the fault and blame is on me and a lot of that is momentum and I lost myself in all that. I couldn't handle it. The story is so bad and toxic and a lot of it is true."

Asked if doping was part of the process required to win the Tour, he said: "That's like saying we have to have air in our tyres or water in our bottles. It was part of the job.

"I don't want to make any excuses, but that was my view and I made those decisions."

In a key exchange Winfrey asked: "Did it feel wrong?

Armstrong replied: "No. Scary."

"Did you feel bad?"

"No. Even scarier."

"Did you feel that you were cheating?"

"No. The scariest."

Armstrong continued: "The definition of a cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field. I didn't understand the magnitude of that. The important thing is that I'm beginning to understand it.

"I see the anger in people, betrayal. It's all there. People who believed in me and supported me and they have every right to feel betrayed and it's my fault and I'll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologise to people."

On whether it was the biggest doping programme in sport he said: "I didn't have access to anything that anybody else didn't.

"Winning races mattered for me but to say that programme was bigger than the East German doping programme of 70s and 80s is wrong."

Armstrong said his battle with cancer in the mid-1990s turned him into a "fighter".

"Before my diagnosis I was a competitor but not a fierce competitor," he said. "I took that ruthless win-at-all-costs attitude into cycling which was bad."

Armstrong denied riders had to comply to a doping programme to compete for the team, but admitted his personality could imply that.

He said: "Yes, I was a bully. I was a bully in the sense that I tried to control the narrative and if I didn't like what someone said I turned on them.

"We felt like we had our backs against the wall and I was a fighter."

Armstrong said he had not been afraid of getting caught. "Testing has evolved. Back then they didn't come to your house and there was no testing out of competition and for most of my career there wasn't that much out-of-competition testing so you're not going to get caught because you clean up for the races.

"I didn't fail a test. Retrospectively, I failed one. The hundreds of tests I took I passed them."

However, he did admit that he received a back-dated therapeutic user exemption certificate for a cream containing steroids at the 1999 Tour to ensure he did not test positive.

Armstrong retired from cycling in 2005 but returned to the sport between 2009 and 2012.

He told Winfrey that he did not use drugs after his return to the sport. "That's the only thing in that whole Usada report that really upset me," he said.

Armstrong said he regretted his return, and was asked if he would have "got away with it" if he had not come back.

"Impossible to say," he replied, but added his "chances would have been better".

However, he conceded that when he discovered George Hincapie, who was the only man to ride in the same team as Armstrong for each of his seven Tour wins, had given evidence against him last year, he knew his "fate was sealed".     

Tags: Sports, World, ARMSTRONG, DOPING

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