David Obendorf:

It’s very rare for the king-pin in a game built on loads of money and personal reputation to publicly admit that their fairy-tale story was not true; in fact, it was a lie.

If it sounds like something is too good to be true, chances are it probably is!

We’re not talking about bogus World Championship Wrestling; we’re talking about the most lucrative annual sports extravaganza – Le Tour.

Oprah: In your opinion was it humanly possible to win the Tour de France without doping – seven times in a row?

Armstrong: Not in my opinion.

American, Lance Armstrong won 7 consecutive Tour de France bicycle races from 1999 to 2005. Le Tour is annual phenomenon worth billions each year in sponsorship, advertising, multi-media rights and tourism.

Lance now admits he was a bully and a liar yet he had no hesitation in taking friends, sport journalists, team staff and fellow cyclists to court for exposing his blood doping and taking of performance enhancing drugs.

As incredible as his super-human performance was, people wanted to be fooled by what Lance now describes as a mythic, perfect story.

The Lesson: So long as everyone benefits, no-one blows the whistle on these money-earning deceptions.

If we can believe Lance today, a young son defending his hero-dad in the playground, was the fragile straw that broke Lance’s Carbon-fibre frame of impregnability.

Oprah interviews Lance Armstrong – Confessing [Part 1]

Published 18 Jan 2013 – 15 Minutes of interview


Oprah: You said: ‘I told her to go wherever she wants; her mean me [Oprah] and I’ll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly… that’s all I can say’.  Those are your word [Armstrong nods in agreement]

Armstrong: Those are my words.

Oprah: When we first met – a week ago today – we agreed that there would be no holds barred; we agreed there would be no conditions on this interview and that this would be an open field.[Armstrong nods].

Armstrong: I think that’s best for both of us. … OK

Oprah: I agree, so here we go… open field. So let’s start with the question that people around the world have been waiting for you to answer. And for now, I’d like a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. [Armstrong smiles and nods in agreement; pursing his lips, holds hand to mouth] So, this whole conversation - we have a lot of time – will be about the details. Yes or no? Did you ever taken banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?

Armstrong: [affirmative nod] Yes.

Oprah: Yes or no? Was one of those banned substances EPO [Erythropoietin]?

Armstrong: [affirmative nod] Yes.

Oprah: Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?

Armstrong: Yes.

Oprah: Do you every use any other banned substances like testosterone, cortisone or human growth hormone?

Armstrong:[affirmative nod] Yes.

Oprah: Yes or no… in all seven of your Tour de France victories did you ever take banned substances or blood dope?

Armstrong: [affirmative nod] Yes.

Oprah:In your opinion was it humanly possible to win the Tour de France’s without doping – seven times in a row?

Armstrong: [nods negatively] Not in my opinion.

Oprah: So when did you first start doping?

Armstrong: We’re done with the ‘Yes and No’s’?

Oprah: We’re done with the ‘Yes and No’s’?

Armstrong: Ahhm… [Lips pursed] You know I suppose earlier in my career there was cortisone and then… [long pause]... the EPO generation began… ahh…

Oprah: Began when?

Armstrong: For me or for…?

Oprah: For you.

Armstrong: Ahhm… mid 90s

Oprah: Mid 90s… for thirteen years, you didn’t just deny it; you brazenly and defiantly denied everything you’ve just admitted to just now. So why now admit it?

Armstrong: That’s the best question; the most logical question [pursed mouth] ahhm… I don’t know that I have a great answer.

I’ll start my answer by saying that ahhm… this is too late. It’s too late for ahhm… probably for most people. And ahh… that’s my fault. [pause] You know, I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times and, as you said, it wasn’t as if I just said ‘No’ and moved off it.

Oprah: Right… You were defiant?

Armstrong: Oh, yes… I understand… [interrupted]

Oprah:  You called other people liars?

Armstrong:I understand that. And ahhm… while I’ve lived through this process especially the last two years… one year… 6 months… 2-3 months… [pause]… ahhm… I know the truth. The truth isn’t what is out there. The truth isn’t what I said. And now it’s gone … [pause]… this story was so perfect for so long. And I mean that as I try to take myself out of that situation and look at it. You overcome the disease [metastatic testicular cancer]; you will the Tour de France seven times; you have a happy family; you have children … I mean it’s just this mythic perfect storm and it wasn’t true.

Oprah: Yes… and that was not true?

Armstrong: And that was not true on a lot of levels.

Oprah:Was it hard to live up to that picture?

Armstrong: [Laughs and shakes head] Impossible!

Oprah: Impossible?

Armstrong: Certainly I’m a flawed character as I well know and I couldn’t do that. [pause] But what we see know… what’s out there [interrupted]

Oprah: But didn’t you help paint that picture?

Armstrong: Of course…. Yeah, no, I did…

Oprah: Yeah [nods]… so that picture [interrupted]… yeah

Armstrong: Ahhm… ahh… ahhm… [pause] and… and… a lot of people do it. And all the… all the fault and all the blame falls on me.

But behind that picture and behind that story, there’s momentum… and whether it’s fans, or whether it’s the media… it… it just gets going and I lost myself in all that. ahhm… and… and… I’m sure there will be other people that couldn’t handle it, but I… I certainbly couldn’t handle it. I was used to controlling everything in my life. I controlled every outcome… [pause]… in my life. 

Oprah: You’ve been doing that forever?

Armstrong: yeah, especially when it comes to sport. But the last thing I’ll say is, now… now the story is so bad and so toxic… and a lot of it is true [looks at Oprah]… [pause] ahhm….
Oprah: You said to me earlier you don’t think it was impossible to win without doping.

Armstrong: Not in that generation. And I’m not here to talk about others in that generation; it’s well documented. Ahhm… I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture.

That… that… that’s my mistake. That’s what I have to be sorry for and that’s… that’s something… and the sport is now paying the price because of that. And so… I am sorry for that. I don’t think… [pause]… I… I… didn’t have access to any thing else that… that nobody else didn’t.

Oprah: Ok, let me read this to you. The United States Anti-Doping Agency – USADA – issued a 164-page report which I’ve read. The CEO, Travis Tygart said in a statement that you and the US Postal Service cycling team pulled off the most – his words – sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that the sport had ever seen. Was it?

Armstrong: Ahhm… [pause]… no. No… [pause] I… I… and I think he actually said that ‘all of the sport has ever seen’. And Oprah [nods in the negative] it… it wasn’t. It was ahh…

[clears throat and puts his left hand to his mouth]. It was [nods and smiles] professional … and it was definitely… s… s… smart, if you can call it that. But it was very conservative; very risk averse and very aware of what mattered and didn’t; one race mattered for me [the Tour de France]. Ahh… [pause] but to say that program was bigger than the East German doping program in the 80s… 70s and 80s? [looks quizzical] that’s not true.

Oprah:  So you are saying you didn’t have access to things that other people didn’t have access to?

Armstrong: Absolutely.

Oprah: What was the culture, can you explain the culture to us?

Armstrong: [Smiles and laughs] It’s hard to get into that without … and again I don’t want to … I don’t want to accuse anyone else; I don’t want to necessarily talk about anybody else. I made my decisions, they are my mistake and I’m sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that.

The culture was what it was…

Oprah: Was everybody doing it? That’s what we’ve heard. Was everybody doing it?

Armstrong: It’s not my… I didn’t know everybody; I didn’t live and train with everybody; I didn’t race with everybody. I can’t say that. You know… there will be people who say that. There will be people who will say: ‘Ok, there’s 200 guys on the Tour…’. I can tell you five guys that didn’t and those are the five heroes. And they’re right. Ahh… so… [interrupted]…

Oprah: What did you think of those guys… now that you’ve called them heroes? But what did you think of those guys at the time when you were riding and who were riding clean [of drugs]? Did you think they were suckers; do you think they were… what?

Armstrong: No… and that’s … [nods sideways, hand to mouth, pauses]… no, I didn’t and… and… and… [nods sideways] the idea that anybody was forced or pressured or encouraged… is not true. I… I’m out of the business of calling somebody a liar. But if you ask me if it’s true or not… I gonna say if it’s true or not. Ahh… that is not true.

Narrator: The US Anti-Doping agency – USADA – of how some of the United State Postal Service cycling team and former team captain Lance Armstrong conducted their year’s long doping scheme.

CEO of USADA – Travis Tygart: … for parts of this scheme that were run [nods]… the Mafia.

Tyler Hamilton[ former US Postal service team mate]; Back in the days we had code… code words for certain things and we had secret phones… secret words. It was either Poe or Edgar Allan Poe. .. [pause]… which was kinda… it was the code name for EPO. 

Narrator: According to USADA, they devised a systematic doping ring in several countries that ran nearly undetected for close to a decade. They say private jets flew some team members to Spain for secret blood transfusions; payments were transferred to Swiss bank accounts; substances were smuggled across international borders; were stored in hidden refrigerators in preparation for blood doping.

Armstrong’s former team mate Tyler Hamilton described how riders got rid of the evidence after injecting performance enhancing drugs. All three vials would go into a Coke can – crush it – and give it to a team doctor to dispose. 

Oprah:How were you able to do it? I mean, you talked a bit about the culture band there’s all kinds of stories out that you going to confess; you were going to talk to me but you weren’t going to tell me everything. We said no holds barred. How was it done?

You said it was smart but it wasn’t the most ahh… sophisticated. What we’ve read, what we’ve heard… is it true? ‘Motoman’ dropping off EPO?

Armstrong: [Hand to mouth] That was true. [nods]

Oprah: That was true. Ahh… were you blood doping in the Stage 11 of the 2000 Tour [de France]… stopping at a hotel…. Tyler Hamilton says you stopped at a hotel [LA look up to the ceiling as if trying to recollect].

Armstrong: I… I’m confused on the Stages… but, yes certainly that was the….

Oprah: But in the middle of the Tour Tyler Hamilton also says that there would be times when… when you were all injecting EPO in a camper or in a tent and right outside the fans would be outside and you would be all dumping syringes in Coke cans. Is that true?

Armstrong: [Pause]… Ahhm [smiles and laughs], I didn’t read Tyler’s book [hand to mouth, looks down] ahhm… [long pause]… I don’t necessarily remember that… but I’m certainly not going to say that’s a lie; that’s not true…. [eyes up to ceiling; grimaces]

Oprah: But my question is… I’d like you to walk me through it… were there, you know, pill deliveries and blood in ahh… secret refrigerators; was there…? How did it work?

Armstrong: [Chuckles and smiles, nods sideways]… oooh, you’d need a long time.

Oprah: How did it all work?

Armstrong: Head down, scratches his head for several seconds] I… I viewed it as very smple. You had… [pauses]… things that were oxygen-boosting drugs – for lack of a better word or way to describe it – that were incredibly beneficial for performance or endurance sports; whether cycling or running or whatever. Ahh… and that’s all you needed.
My…my… [pause]… my… ahh… cocktail, so to speak, was only… [pauses and counts on his fingers] EPO; not a lot, transfusions and testosterone… which, in a weird way I almost justified because… because of my history obviously with testicular cancer and losing [a testicle]…. [looks thoughtful] …but surely I’m running low [on testosterone]. 

Oprah: So you could justify the testosterone?

Armstrong: Well… [bites his lips, looks at Oprah]

Oprah: Could you… could you in some way justify the blood transfusions because it was your blood? They keep your blood and put your blood in… 

Armstrong: [Nods his head sideways] There’s no… there’s no true justification, you know, [looks away] ahh…

Oprah: Were you afraid of getting caught?

Armstrong: [Pause] Ahh… no. Drug testing has changed; it’s evolved. In the old days, they tested at the races. They didn’t come to your house; they didn’t come to your training camps. They tested you at the race. That’s shifted a lot, so now the emphasis of the testing – which is right – is in out of competition testing.

Oprah: And in 199 there wasn’t even a test for EPO.

Armstrong: No, and there was no testing out of competition… there may theoretically… there may have been, but they never [nods in the negative] they never… And for most of my career there wasn’t much of that [hand to face].  So two things change…

Oprah: That much of what?

Armstrong: There wasn’t much of out of competition testing. So… [shrugs and pauses]… you’re not going to get caught.  You know, ‘cos, ahhm… you’re clean at the races… [pause and looks at Oprah]… clear?

Oprah: Would you take, several days before… you take… you take, you take in enough… you take it and give yourself enough time to move through your system?

Armstrong: Yeah… yeah, sure… [smiles] scheduling.

Oprah: Scheduling… that sounds weird…

Armstrong: Two things change; the shift to out of competition testing and the biological passport. It really worked.

I am no fan or defender of the UCI, but they implemented the bio-passport…

Narrator: International Cycling Union or UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency or WADA began using the biological passport he [Lance Armstrong] refers to in 2008. The bio-passport creates a profile of each cyclist’s natural blood and urine levels from samples collected several times throughout the year. Any fluctuations in a rider’s blood or urine are red-flagged as possible doping.

The 2012 USADA report says; ‘Expert examination establishes that the likelihood of Armstrong’s blood values from 2009 and 2010 Tours de France occurring naturally is less than one in a million’.  The report went on to say this builds ‘a compelling argument consistent with blood doping’.

Armstrong: And that’s the only thing in that whole report that really upset me. I mean [laughs] obviously it upset me… [pause]… but the accusation … [pause] and the alleged proof that they say that I doped after my comeback, is not true [nods his head in the negative].

The last time I crossed the line … that line [doping]… was 2005. And so… interrupted…

Oprah: So when you were placed third in 2009 [in the Tour de France], you did not dope?

Armstrong: No… no, and again

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