Lance Armstrong, considered the greatest cyclist in the sport’s history, confessed to taking performance-enhancing drugs in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired on Thursday night.
Winfrey began the much-publicized interview by asking Armstrong "yes or no" questions about doping, with Armstrong admitting that he used erythropoietin (EPO), blood transfusions, testosterone, cortisone, and human growth hormones.
The 41-year-old, who maintained a composed demeanor throughout the interview, also admitted that he could not win the Tour de France without doping. He described his “ruthless desire to win" and added that he viewed himself as an “arrogant prick.”
When Winfrey asked why he was confessing now, Armstrong didn't have a clear answer. He said that “...this is too late. This is too late for probably most people. And that’s my fault.”
"I view this situation as one big lie," said Armstrong. He admitted to being defiant and calling innocent people "liars" under Winfrey's persistence.
Armstrong said that 2005 was the last time he doped. He also admitted to being a bully.
“I was a bully in the sense that I controlled the narrative,” said Armstrong.
He said that at the time, he didn't feel like he was cheating, and that he was competing at a level playing field. He even said that he looked up the definition of "cheating."
"I will spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologize to people," said Armstrong.
“Did you not think that you would have been found out at some point?” asked Winfrey.
“Well, I just assumed that the stories would continue a long time” Armstrong replied.
The interview was billed as a frank, "no-holds-barred" grilling in Winfrey's first of a two-part interview. “Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive,” has received a great deal of attention due to the magnitude of Armstrong's success and vehement denials that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong was stripped of his titles and banned for life by the United States Anti-Doping Agency last August, but at the time remained steadfast in his denial of ever using PEDs. He returned to the cycling circuit in 1998 after battling testicular cancer, and set the world on fire with his blistering and unprecedented comeback.
His cancer in remission, Armstrong instantly became an inspiration across the world and started the Live Strong Foundation, which to date has raised more than $400 million for cancer research. Donations poured in thanks in part to Armstrong's story, and to yellow plastic bracelets inscribed with the Live Strong logo that became a staple in worldwide popular culture.
Later it was revealed that members of Armstrong’s United States Postal Service cycling team had tested positive for PEDs, including teammate Floyd Landis, who claimed Armstrong knowingly doped during races.
Perhaps in anticipation of the interview, the International Olympic Committee asked Armstrong to return the bronze medal he won for the United States in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.