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Cyclist Lance Armstrong has ended years of denials by admitting to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs during all seven of his Tour de France wins.
The 41-year-old confessed: “I view this situation as one big lie I repeated a lot of times.”
“I made those decisions, they were my mistake and I’m here to say sorry.”
However, Lance armstrong denied it was “sport’s biggest doping programme”, saying “it was smart, but it was conservative, risk averse”.
The interview with Oprah Winfrey was broadcast on prime time television on her OWN network in the US, and was streamed worldwide through her website.
The tens of millions viewers saw Lance Armstrong reveal:
- 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
In response the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) called for Armstrong to detail “under oath” the full extent of his doping.
Cycling’s governing body the UCI welcomed Armstrong’s decision “to come clean and confess”, and said the interview had confirmed it was not part of a “collusion or conspiracy”.
Last year Lance Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles after being labelled a “serial cheat” by Usada.
In a detailed report, the body said he led “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme sport has ever seen”.
Lance Armstrong 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 Oprah Winfrey demanded yes or no answers.
“Did you ever take banned substances to enhance cycling performance?”
“Was one of those substances EPO?”
“Did you use any other banned substances?”
Lance Armstrong then admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs Erythropoietin (EPO), testosterone, cortisone and human growth hormone 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, Lance Armstrong 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 Oprah Winfrey asked: “Did it feel wrong?”
Lance Armstrong replied: “No. Scary.”
“Did you feel bad?”
“No. Even scarier.”
“Did you feel that you were cheating?”
“No. The scariest.”
Lance Armstrong has ended years of denials by admitting to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs during all seven of his Tour de France wins
Lance 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.”
Lance 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.”
Lance Armstrong denied riders had to comply to a doping programme to compete for his US Postal Service/Discovery Channel 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.”
Lance 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.
Lance Armstrong retired from cycling in 2005 but returned to the sport between 2009 and 2012.
He told Oprah 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.
Lance 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 Lance Armstrong for each of his seven Tour wins, had given evidence against him last year, he knew his “fate was sealed”.
“George is the most credible voice in all of this,” Lance Armstrong added.
“He did all seven Tours. We’re still great friends. I don’t fault George Hincapie, but George knows this story better than anybody.”
Lance Armstrong said he would now co-operate with USADA.
“I love cycling and I say that knowing that people see me as someone who disrespected the sport, the colour yellow,” he said.
“If there was a truth and reconciliation commission – and I can’t call for that – and I’m invited I’ll be first man through the door.”
He went on to say that he wished he had complied with the USADA investigation.
“I’d do anything to go back to that day,” he said.
“I wouldn’t fight, I wouldn’t sue them, I’d listen. I’d do a couple of things first.
“I’d say give me three days. Let me call my family, my mother, sponsors, [the Lance Armstrong Livestrong] foundation and I wish I could do that but I can’t.”
Asked if his former doctor Michele Ferrari, who was banned for life by USADA after being found guilty of numerous anti-doping violations, was the “mastermind”, Lance Armstrong said: “No. I’m not comfortable talking about other people.
“I viewed Dr. Michele Ferrari as a good man and I still do.”
He said he regretted “going on the attack” against masseuse Emma O’Reilly, who was an early whistleblower.
“She is one of these people that I have to apologise to,” he said.
“She’s one of these people who got run over, got bullied.”
He denied making a $100,000 donation in 2005 to the UCI, to cover up a failed drugs test.
“It was not in exchange for help,” he said.
“They called. They didn’t have a lot of money. I did. They asked if I would make a donation so I did.
“That story [of a cover up] 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.”
However, Lance Armstrong refused to answer questions regarding allegations made by former team-mate Frankie Andreu, who admitted in 2006 to taking EPO before the 1999 Tour – Armstrong’s first victory – and his wife Betsy,
The duo testified in 2006 that they heard Lance Armstrong tell a cancer doctor that he had doped with EPO in 1996. Armstrong swore, under oath, that it did not happen.
Lance Armstrong told Oprah Winfrey that he had a 40-minute telephone conversation with the Andreus but he was not prepared to reveal what was said.
Lance Armstrong will be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, amid reports that he might publicly admit to doping.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the sport’s governing body, following a report by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network said the 90-minute interview would address “years of accusations of cheating”.
Lance Armstrong has maintained his innocence as he received a life ban from USADA.
But the New York Times reported on Friday that the 41-year-old was considering a public admission that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs. An admission could lead to an apparent bid to return to competing in marathons and triathlons, the paper reported.
The interview announcement was first made on Oprah Winfrey’s Twitter account on Tuesday, and confirmed when Lance Armstrong retweeted it 15 minutes later.
The interview – his first since being stripped of his wins – will be broadcast on January 17 on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network and live-streamed online.
Lance Armstrong will be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, amid reports that he might publicly admit to doping
Lance Armstrong ended his fight against doping charges in August 2012. In October, USADA released a 1,000-page report saying he had been at the heart of “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme” ever seen in sport.
He was stripped of his titles by the International Cycling Union (UCI) shortly afterwards and given a lifetime ban from the sport.
Lance Armstrong also resigned as chairman of the Livestrong foundation – the cancer charity he created – after the cycling body’s decision.
His lawyer, Tim Herman, has described the USADA report as a “one-sided hatchet job” and the cyclist himself has accused the agency of offering “corrupt inducements” to other riders to speak out against him.
It is believed he is considering an admission because he wants to resume his athletic career, and has shown an interest in competing in triathlons.
Asked whether the 41-year-old was set to come clean, Tim Herman told the New York Times: “Lance has to speak for himself on that.”
Separately, the head of USADA told a US investigative programme that Lance Armstrong offered the agency a donation of some $250,000 in 2004, reports said.
Speaking to 60 Minutes Sport, to be broadcast in the US on Wednesday, Travis Tygart said the offer was a “clear conflict of interest” and quickly rejected.
Former cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping last October, is said to be considering admitting publicly that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his disgraced cycling career.
Lance Armstrong, 41, is reported to have told anti-doping officials that he will make a public admission of guilt in the hope than he can persuade them to restore his eligibility to compete in triathlons, which have replaced cycling as his sporting passion.
For more than a decade, Lance Armstrong has vehemently denied ever doping, even after anti-doping officials laid out their case against him last October in a report which accused him of running “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”.
All Lance Armstrong’s results from August 1, 1998 were expunged from the record books, including his seven consecutive Tour de France “wins” from 1999 to 2005, and he was banned from cycling for life.
Up until now Lance Armstrong has refused to cooperate with the investigation and has consistently denied wrongdoing, but he has been under pressure from various fronts to confess.
Wealthy supporters of Livestrong, the charity he founded after surviving testicular cancer, have been trying to persuade him to come forward so he could clear his conscience and save the organization from further damage.
Lance Armstrong is said to be considering admitting publicly that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his cycling career
According to The New York Times, Lance Armstrong has been in discussions with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and met the agency’s chief executive, Travis Tygart, in an effort to mitigate the lifetime ban he received for playing a lead role in doping on his Tour-winning teams.
Lance Armstrong is also seeking to meet with David Howman, the director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Since quitting cycling, Lance Armstrong has hopes of competing in triathlons and running events, but those competitions are often sanctioned by organizations that adhere to the World Anti-Doping Code, under which Lance Armstrong received his lifetime ban.
According to the code, an athlete might be eligible for a reduced punishment if he fully confesses and details how he doped, who helped him dope and how he got away with doping.
Lance Armstrong has been keeping a low profile since doping revelations ruined his once illustrious career and reputation.
In November he was spotted canoeing in the warm Pacific waters just off Hawaii. The holiday island has become a regular destination for Lance Armstrong to seek refuge, as he throws himself into training for Ironman Triathlon events.
An Ironman Triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and without a break. Most Ironman events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the International Cycling Union.
UCI has accepted the findings of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) investigation into Armstrong.
UCI president Pat McQuaid said: “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. He deserves to be forgotten.”
Pat McQuaid added Armstrong had been stripped of all results since 1 August, 1998 and banned for life for doping.
On what he called a “landmark day for cycling”, the Irishman, who became president of UCI in 2005, said he would not be resigning.
“This is a crisis, the biggest crisis cycling has ever faced,” he said.
“I like to look at this crisis as an opportunity for our sport and everyone involved in it to realise it is in danger and to work together to go forward.
“Cycling has a future. This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads or that it has had to begin anew.
“When I took over [as president] in 2005 I made the fight against doping my priority. I acknowledged cycling had a culture of doping. Cycling has come a long way. I have no intention of resigning as president of the UCI,” Pat McQuaid said.
“I’m sorry that we couldn’t catch every damn one of them red-handed and throw them out of the sport at the time.”
Lance Armstrong, 41, received a life ban from USADA for what the organisation called “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.
The American, who overcame cancer to return to professional cycling, won the Tour de France in seven successive years from 1999 to 2005.
He has always denied doping but chose not to fight the charges filed against him.
USADA released a 1,000-page report earlier this month which included sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team and the doping activities of its members.
USADA praised the “courage” shown by the riders in coming forward and breaking the sport’s “code of silence”.
Lance Armstrong, who retired in 2005 but returned in 2009 before retiring for good two years later, has not commented on the details of USADA’s report. His lawyer Tim Herman, however, has described it as a “one-sided hatchet job”.
Pat McQuaid said he was “sickened” by what he read in the USADA report, singling out the testimony of Lance Armstrong’s former team-mate David Zabriskie.
“The story he told of how he was coerced and to some extent forced into doping is just mind-boggling,” he said.
“It is very difficult to accept and understand that that went on.
“But cycling has changed a lot since then. What was available to the UCI then was much more limited compared to what is available now. If we had then what we have now, this sort of thing would not have gone on.”
Pat McQuaid was quizzed over the $100,000 donation made by Armstrong to the UCI in 2002, one year after the American cyclist had had a suspicious test for EPO at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland.
The management committee of the UCI will meet on Friday to discuss whether to reallocate Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France titles and prize money.
Sportswear giant Nike has terminated its contract with former cyclist Lance Armstrong over doping evidence.
Nike stated that “due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Armstrong participated in doping… we have terminated his contract”.
Lance Armstrong, 41, has also stepped down as chairman of his charity Livestrong.
The decisions come a week after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released a report containing accusations of widespread doping by Armstrong and his teams.
It contains sworn statements from 26 witnesses, including 11 former team-mates.
USADA ordered 14 years of Lance Armstrong’s career results, including his seven Tour de France titles, to be erased. The former cyclist has always denied doping, but gave up his fight against the charges in August.
Nike, which added that it was “misled” by the American for more than a decade, made a U-turn on a statement released last week when it said it would “continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation”.
Nike has terminated its contract with former cyclist Lance Armstrong over doping evidence
Nike and Lance Armstrong had been in partnership since 1996.
Lance Armstrong also announced on Wednesday that he would be quitting his role as chairman of his cancer charity in order “to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career”.
The Texan will remain on Livestrong’s 15-member board, with vice-chairman Jeff Garvey, who was founding chairman in 1997, taking over Lance Armstrong’s role.
Lance Armstrong added: “As my cancer treatment was drawing to an end, I created a foundation to serve people affected by cancer.
“It has been a great privilege to help it grow from a dream into an organisation that today has served 2.5 million people and helped spur a cultural shift in how the world views cancer survivors.”
Former England footballer, Geoff Thomas, who survived myeloid leukaemia he contracted in 2003, said Lance Armstrong “had done the right thing” by stepping down as chairman.
“I think it’s damage limitation while everything is going as it is – there’s a news story about Lance every day,” he said.
“Lance stepping down will probably take the heat away from the charity itself and put the focus solely on him.”
Cyclist Lance Armstrong’s team ran “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme the sport has ever seen” according to a report by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
USADA says it will deliver the full report in the doping case against Lance Armstrong, 41, later on Wednesday.
It contains testimony from 11 of his former US Postal Service team-mates.
Lance Armstrong has always denied doping allegations but has not contested USADA’s charges.
USADA chief executive Travis T. Tygart said there was “conclusive and undeniable proof” of a team-run doping conspiracy.
The organisation will send a “reasoned decision” in the Armstrong case to the International Cycling Union (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the World Triathlon Corporation.
The UCI now has 21 days to lodge an appeal against USADA’s decision with WADA or they must comply with the decision to strip Armstrong, who now competes in triathlons, of his seven Tour de France titles and hand him a lifetime ban.
Lance Armstrong ran the most sophisticated doping program in cycling history
Lance Armstrong, who overcame cancer to return to professional cycling, won the Tour from 1999 to 2005. He retired in 2005 but returned in 2009 before retiring for good two years later.
In his statement, Travis T. Tygart said the evidence against Lance Armstrong and his team – which is in excess of 1,000 pages – was “overwhelming” and “and includes sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team and its participants’ doping activities”.
Travis T. Tygart revealed it contains “direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirm the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding”.
He also claimed the team’s doping conspiracy “was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices”.
Among the former team-mates of Lance Armstrong’s to testify were George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for failing a dope test and was recently found guilty in a Swiss court of defaming the International Cycling Union for alleging they had protected Lance Armstrong from doping claims.
Travis T. Tygart said: “The riders who participated in the USPS Team doping conspiracy and truthfully assisted have been courageous in making the choice to stop perpetuating the sporting fraud, and they have suffered greatly.
“I have personally talked with and heard these athletes’ stories and firmly believe that, collectively, these athletes, if forgiven and embraced, have a chance to leave a legacy far greater for the good of the sport than anything they ever did on a bike.
“Lance Armstrong was given the same opportunity to come forward and be part of the solution. He rejected it.
“Instead he exercised his legal right not to contest the evidence and knowingly accepted the imposition of a ban from recognised competition for life and disqualification of his competitive results from 1998 forward.”
USADA confirmed that two other members of the US Postal Service team, Dr. Michele Ferrari and Dr. Garcia del Moral, also received lifetime bans for their part in the doping conspiracy.
Three further members, team director Johan Bruyneel, a team doctor Dr. Pedro Celaya and team trainer Jose Marti, have chosen to contest the charges and take their cases to arbitration.
Travis T. Tygart also called on the UCI to “act on its own recent suggestion for a meaningful Truth and Reconciliation programme”.
“Hopefully, the sport can unshackle itself from the past, and once and for all continue to move forward to a better future,” he added.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong announces he will no longer fight drug charges from the US anti-doping agency, ahead of a Friday deadline.
In a statement, Lance Armstrong, 40, maintains he is innocent, but says he is weary of the “nonsense” accusations.
The US anti-doping agency (USADA) now says it will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles.
Lance Armstrong retired from professional sport in 2011.
USADA alleges he used banned substances as far back as 1996, including the blood-booster EPO, steroid and blood transfusions.
USADA says it will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles
Lance Armstrong sued in federal court to block the charges but lost.
“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, <<Enough is enough>>. For me, that time is now,” Lance Armstrong said in the statement.
“I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999.
“Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s [USADA’s chief executive] unconstitutional witch hunt.
“The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.”
Lance Armstrong had been given until 06:00 GMT on Friday to decide whether to continue fighting the USADA charges.
The agency has said that 10 of Lance Armstrong’s former teammates are prepared to testify against him.
The cyclist has accused USADA of offering “corrupt inducements” to other riders.
USADA also accuses Armstrong of being a “ring-leader” of systematic doping on his Tour de France winning teams.
Travis Tygart said shortly after Armstrong’s statement that his agency would ban Lance Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of his titles, according to AP.
The chief executive described the case as a “heartbreaking” example of a win-at-all costs approach to sports.
However, Lance Armstrong disputed that the USADA has the power to take away his titles.
“USADA lacks jurisdiction even to bring these charges,” his statement said.
The cycling governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI) – which had backed Armstrong’s challenge to challenge USADA’s authority – has so far made no public comments on the latest developments.
Lance Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer prior to his record-breaking Tour wins, retired after the 2005 Tour de France but made a comeback in 2009.
He retired for a second time in February 2011.
Lance Armstrong now says he will be focusing on the work with his cancer charity.