After nearly 15 years of defiant denials and denunciations of those who said he had doped his way to success, Lance Armstrong put the lie to all that by telling Oprah Winfrey he had used performance-enhancing drugs during all seven of his Tour de France victories.
Despite saying he was sorry for having damaged cycling and admitting he deserved his fall from grace, the primary take away from Thursday’s 90-minute segment of a 2 1/2-hour interview that will be concluded Friday on OWN is of an Armstrong who will not shake his years of being a calculated liar, whose seven Tour de France victories — since stripped from him, along with an Olympic bronze medal — are the greatest competitive fraud in sports history.
“I view this as one big lie I repeated a lot of times,” Armstrong said, with more resignation than contrition.
Armstrong’s admissions in many areas were incomplete, and that failure to tell the whole truth for whatever reasons — legal protection or more defiance — will continue to impugn his credibility. His failure to make a public apology for the lies he told about other people also undermined Armstrong’s attempt to turn the interview to his benefit.
Armstrong said he took a usual “cocktail” of erythropoietin (EPO), testosterone and blood transfusions beginning in the mid-1990s and running through his seventh straight first-place Tour finish in 2005, after which he retired before coming back to the race in 2009.
He insisted that given the widespread culture of doping in the sport during those years, it was not possible to win the Tour without doping.
“Did you feel you were cheating?” Winfrey asked.
“At the time, no,” Armstrong said, explaining it with moral relativism. “I looked up cheat in the dictionary and the definition was to gain an advantage on a rival. I viewed it as a level playing field.”