Armstrong admits doping: 'I'm a flawed character' (+video interview)

By Jim Litke

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Jan. 17 2013 11:00 p.m. MST

Lance Armstrong Interview

"That defiance, that attitude, that arrogance, you cannot deny it."

Armstrong said he started doping in mid-1990s but didn't when he finished third in his comeback attempt.

Anti-doping officials have said nothing short of a confession under oath — "not talking to a talk-show host," is how World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman put it — could prompt a reconsideration of Armstrong's lifetime ban from sanctioned events.

He's also had discussions with officials at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, whose 1,000-page report in October included testimony from nearly a dozen former teammates and led to stripping Armstrong of his Tour titles. Shortly after, he lost nearly all his endorsements, was forced to walk away from the Livestrong cancer charity he founded in 1997, and just this week was stripped of his bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics.

Armstrong could provide information that might get his ban reduced to eight years. By then, he would be 49. He returned to triathlons, where he began his professional career as a teenager, after retiring from cycling in 2011, and has told people he's desperate to get back.

Initial reaction from anti-doping officials ranged from hostile to cool.

WADA president John Fahey derided Armstrong's defense that he doped to create "a level playing field" as "a convenient way of justifying what he did — a fraud."

"He was wrong, he cheated and there was no excuse for what he did," Fahey said by telephone in Australia.

If Armstrong "was looking for redemption," Fahey added, "he didn't succeed in getting that."

USADA chief Travis Tygart, who pursued the case against Armstrong when others had stopped, said the cyclist's confession was just a start.

"Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit," Tygart said. "His admission that he doped throughout his career is a small step in the right direction. But if he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities."

Livestrong issued a statement that said the charity was "disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us."

"Earlier this week, Lance apologized to our staff and we accepted his apology in order to move on and chart a strong, independent course," it said.

The interview revealed very few details about Armstrong's performance-enhancing regimen that would surprise anti-doping officials.

What he called "my cocktail" contained the steroid testosterone and the blood-booster erythropoetein, or EPO, "but not a lot," Armstrong said. That was on top of blood-doping, which involved removing his own blood and weeks later re-injecting it into his system.

All of it was designed to build strength and endurance, but it became so routine that Armstrong described it as "like saying we have to have air in our tires or water in our bottles."

"That was, in my view, part of the job," he said.

Armstrong was evasive, or begged off entirely, when Winfrey tried to connect his use to others who aided or abetted the performance-enhancing scheme on the USPS team

When she asked him about Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, who was implicated in doping-related scrapes and has also been banned from cycling for life, Armstrong replied, "It's hard to talk about some of these things and not mention names. There are people in this story, they're good people and we've all made mistakes ... they're not monsters, not toxic and not evil, and I viewed Michele Ferrari as a good man and smart man and still do."

But that's nearly all Armstrong would say about the physician that some reports have suggested educated the cyclist about doping and looked after other aspects of his training program.

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