• Cycling

'Bully' Armstrong admits to doping

ESPN staff
January 18, 2013
Lance Armstrong's seven Tour de France wins have been erased from the record books

Lance Armstrong has admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs and that he wielded power like he was a bully.

After years of denials, Armstrong confirmed during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he used banned substances during all seven of his Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005.

His doping began in the mid-1990s, prior to him being diagnosed with cancer, but he insisted he did not dope during his comeback.

Asked when his doping started, he said: "The mid 1990s. I suppose earlier in my career there was cortisone and then the EPO generation began."

Earlier this week, on the day the interview was recorded, Armstrong spoke to members of his Livestrong charity to apologise for what had gone on. And in response to why he has decided to come clean now, he said: "I don't know that I have a great answer.

"This is too late. It's too late for probably most people and that's my fault. I view this situation as one big lie, that I repeated a lot of times. It wasn't as if I just said no."

Armstrong said he will spend the rest of his life apologising for his actions. He said: "I see the anger in people. And betrayal. It's all there. These are people that supported me, believed in me.

"They have every right to feel betrayed. And it's my fault. I will spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologise to people."

Armstrong was accused by the United States Anti-Doping Agency of running "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

He denied that, but said: "It was definitely professional, it was definitely smart, but it was very conservative, very risk-averse, very aware. But to say that that programme was bigger than the East German programme in the mid-80s, it's not true."

Armstrong was the dominant figure in the peloton while at his peak and he admitted he wielded that power.

"Yes, I was a bully," he said. "I was a bully in the sense I tried to control the narrative."

He did not believe what he was doing was cheating. "At the time, no," he said. "I looked up the definition of cheat. The definition of cheat is to gain an advantage over a rival or foe. I didn't do that. I viewed it as a level playing field.

"It was like saying we have to have air in our tyres or water in our bottles. It was part of the job."

He maintained his stance that he never failed a drugs test and denied claims of a cover-up for a test at the Tour de Suisse in 2001.

"I didn't fail a test," he said. "Stuff was retroactively tested. Technically I retroactively failed those. The hundreds of tests I took I passed them."

Asked about the 2001 incident and reports he paid off the UCI to cover up a positive test, Armstrong said: "That story isn't true. There was no positive test. There was no paying off of the lab.

"There was no secret meeting with the lab director.

"I'm no fan of the UCI. That did not happen."

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