Lance Armstrong Admits Doping in Oprah Winfrey Interview

The once-celebrated cyclist labels his career of denial 'one big lie.'

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After over a decade of adamant denials, Lance Armstrong finally came clean about using performance-enhancing drugs during his celebrated cycling career in a confessional interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times," Armstrong said in the much-anticipated 90-minute broadcast on OWN Thursday night, in which he admitted unequivocally to drugging during his seven Tour de France wins. "I know the truth. The truth isn't what was out there. The truth isn't what I said. I'm a flawed character, as I well know. All the fault and all the blame here falls on me."

Did he use the blood-enhancing hormone EPO? Testosterone? Cortisone? Human growth hormone? Illegal blood transfusions and other blood doping? Armstrong answered a simple "yes" to all, revealing it all began back in the mid-1990s.

“People who believed in me and believed me have every right to feel betrayed," said Armstrong, formerly cycling's most decorated champion. "I will spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologize to people."

Armstrong's confessions comes after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released a damning 200-page report revealing Armstrong’s deep involvement in the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen,” USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said in a statement in October.

On the basis of the findings, the International Cycling Union (UCI) stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour titles and banned him from the sport for life back. “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling,” said the union’s president, Pat McQuaid, according to CNN. Soon after, Armstrong stepped down as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer-fighting charity he founded 15 years ago, and lost longtime sponsors, like Nike.

Back in February 2012, the federal government dropped its criminal investigation into whether Armstrong committed fraud through his doping scheme. Though no explanation was provided, Armstrong saw it as a sign that he had finally won his years-long fight against such allegations. "I thought I was out of the woods," he told Winfrey.

But then the USADA continued to investigate the cyclist. "I'd do anything to go back to that day," Armstrong said of the day USADA gave him the chance to come clean. "Because I wouldn't fight, I wouldn't sue them. I'd listen."

Now the USADA feels Armstrong's confession is a "small step in the right direction," the agency said in a statement. "Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit. 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, the cancer-fighting charity Armstrong founded 15 years ago, said in a statement it was "disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us. [But] even in the wake of our disappointment, we also express our gratitude to Lance as a survivor for the drive, devotion and spirit he brought to serving cancer patients and the entire cancer community."

A second portion of the Armstrong-Winfrey interview will air on OWN Friday, Jan. 18, at 9 PM ET.

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