Disgraced cycling legend Lance Armstrong’s fierce defence of his record finally collapsed on Thursday as he admitted that his seven Tour de France titles were fuelled by an array of drugs.
“I made my decisions. They’re my mistake,” Armstrong told US talk show host Oprah Winfrey, in his first interview since he was stripped of his record yellow jersey haul and banned from sport for life late last year. “And I’m sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that,” said Armstrong, who described years of cheating, lying, and attacking those who had the temerity to doubt him. “I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times,” he said. Winfrey’s interview saw Armstrong admit with terse “yes” answers to using the blood-booster EPO, blood-doping transfusions, testosterone and human growth hormone. All were listed by the US Anti-Doping Agency in the damning report on which it based the 41-year-old American’s life ban and the loss of all his cycling achievements since August 1998. Armstrong confirmed details contained in the report such as the existence of the shadowy courier who delivered EPO to riders.
Denied using drugs after retirement
He denied that the International Cycling Union (UCI) covered up a positive drug test from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland, and he denied that he used banned drugs when he returned from retirement and raced in the 2009 and 2010 Tours de France. For many of his admissions, Armstrong related the justifications he made to himself, saying that in the years that he won the Tour from 1999-2005, he did not believe it was possible to capture cycling’s greatest race without doping. Back then, Armstrong said, he didn’t even think of himself as cheating. “…I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field,” he said.
Armstrong — who was stripped of his 2000 Olympic bronze medal hours before the airing of the interview — denied forcing team-mates to dope, but admitted that they may have felt pressure to follow his example. USADA chief Travis Tygart reiterated after the interview that Armstrong must tell his story under oath to have any chance of reducing his life ban. UCI president Pat McQuaid said, “Lance Armstrong’s decision finally to confront his past is an important step forward… to repairing the damage that has been caused to cycling and to restoring confidence in the sport.”Agencies