As it happened: The Lance Armstrong-Oprah Winfrey interview

Revisit our our minute-by-minute liveblog, as Lance Armstrong confirmed to Oprah that he doped to win his seven Tour de France titles.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the interview. E-mail, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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The endless hours of waiting are almost over and I’ve just finished my Curb Your Enthusiasm boxset, which can only mean one thing: we’re ready to start our (sort of) liveblog of the Lance Armstrong-Oprah Winfrey interview.

I am in no way bored waiting for this interview to begin, given that Discovery are currently showing the rather wonderful ‘Die Hard 4.0: The True Story’, but in case you’re getting restless, you can find a relatively comprehensive round-up of what the world’s media have been saying in the lead up to this interview right here.

In case you missed it earlier, here’s what a group of Taiwanese animators make of the whole situation.

YouTube credit: NMAWorldEdition

Here’s a poll while you’re waiting for the interview to begin.

How honest do you think Armstrong will be?

Poll Results:

Largely dishonest (385)
Honest only when it suits him (313)
Completely honest (18)

More reading material for you – not that you really need it given that ‘Die Hard 4.0: The True Story’ is still on – can be found in the form of Patrick Hruby’s excellent ‘Print the Legend’ article. Below is an excerpt from said article:

Lance Armstrong was a great story. A comforting fable. He whipped cancer. Whipped the Pyrenees. Whipped all comers. Sold us bright yellow bracelets, and made us feel good about ourselves — like we were really doing something here, guys! — for wearing them. Manti Te’o was a great story, too. Another comforting fable. Lost his girlfriend, the love of his life, the one he met on a football field, to leukemia. Or was it a car crash? Doesn’t matter. She was gone, but Te’o pressed on, strong and brave, making lots and lots of tackles, overcoming adversity. Just like Armstrong. Just the way we want and need our athletes to be, because if they can do it, maybe we can do it, too, and maybe we’ll even have our own stories to tell, even if we never win the Tour de France or almost win the Heisman Trophy.

Here’s a very interesting tweet from Daniel Coyle, co-author of The Secret Race:

The Guardian’s Barry Glendenning, on the other hand, seems less enthused about the prospect of the interview:

(A delivery man waves to media after dropping a package at the home of cyclist Lance Armstrong, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, in Austin, Texas – Eric Gay/AP/Press Association Images)

So here’s a few key questions ahead of the interview:

  • Will he apologise to Betsy Andreu, Greg LeMond and Emma O’Reilly?
  • From an Irish perspective, will he discuss the journalism of David Walsh and Paul Kimmage, who have consistently accused Lance Armstrong of cheating over the years?
  • Will he blow the whistle on UCI and claim they were complicit in his doping?
  • Will he break down and start crying and will there be any sympathy for him if he does so?
  • How hard-hitting will Oprah be with her questions (if at all)?
  • Will he admit that Dr Michele Ferrari aided his doping?

So it looks like we’re just about ready to go…

Oprah is reiterating that the interview will be “no holds barred” and Armstrong says that’s “best for both of us”.

Armstrong has just admitted to using several banned substances including EPO and cortisone since the mid-90s.

He admits that it wouldn’t have been possible to win seven Tour de Frances otherwise.

He says that the admission is “too late”.

Armstrong says that the story of him winning seven Tour de Frances was “so perfect”.

He claims it was “impossible” to live up to the image that he says he partially created himself.

“The sport is now paying the price because of that,” he says.

He says the doping programme wasn’t especially sophisticated and wasn’t as big as the “East German one in the 80s”.

He says he “cannot say” if everyone was doing it.

He claims the doping was “professional” but “very conservative”.

He says no one was pressurised into doping, and admits: “I’m no longer in the business of calling anyone a liar”.

He says he doesn’t remember dumping syringes in coke cans in a tent while a van was waiting outside, as claimed by Tyler Hamilton in his book, but doesn’t want to say that it’s not true.

His “cocktail was EPO, transfusions and testosterone”.

He says there wasn’t any “out-of-competition testing,” and that he “scheduled” his drug use to avoid getting caught.

He says he did no doping in 2009 and 2010 after his comeback.

He also claims 2005 was the last time he doped.

So we’re currently at an ad break.

Random thought: is there anyway this isn’t the highest viewing figures Discovery has ever had at 2am?

“Could he get someone fired for not doping?” asks Oprah.

“Absolutely not,” says Armstrong.

“There were people on the team who didn’t dope,” he says.

He refutes allegations that he implored cyclists to “conform to the doping programme”.

He accepts that his teammates looked up to him and his behaviour could encourage others to dope.

He admits to being a bully.

“I tried to control the narrative,” he says.

He did this when he perceived people to be disloyal.

“I was always a fighter.”

“In an odd way,” he says. The cancer made him “ruthless” and more determined to succeed.

He says he would “basically” do anything to win.

He explains that “my view is that it was,” in answer to the question of whether doping was prevalent.

Some Twitter reaction for you…

Armstrong: “There are people in this story who are good people” and “not monsters”.

He says Michele Ferrari is a “good, smart person”.

He explains that Ferrari wasn’t the leader behind the doping programme and that he’s “not comfortable” talking about other people.

He admits it was “reckless” for him to be involved with Ferrari.

Armstrong describes himself as “deeply flawed” and a “jerk,” and says he “deserves” ridicule.

He explains that his “ruthless desire to win” was to blame for his flaws. “That defiance, that arrogance,” he says, adding that he was an “arrogant prick” after a clip of him denying doping that Oprah’s just shown him.

Oprah shows him back the famous clip in which he made a speech lamenting his critics after winning his last Tour de France.

Armstrong admits he’s “embarrassed” by it and that it was “a mistake”.

He says he “didn’t even feel bad” at the time.

He didn’t view it as cheating, but as “a level playing field”.

“I didn’t know it was cheating,” he claims. “I didn’t understand the magnitude of it.”

“I see the anger in people,” he says. “They have every right to feel betrayed.”

“I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologise to people.”

He says he is “happier today, than I was then”.

It’s another ad break.

Meanwhile, some of the interview has already been posted on YouTube, unsurprisingly:

YouTube credit: FirstLeaks

And here’s that speech Oprah was referring to, and which Armstrong admitted to being “embarrassed” about.


Armstrong says he only “retroactively” failed tests.

“There was no positive test and UCI didn’t make that go away,” he claims, in relation to the Tour de Suisse.

The UCI “asked” Armstrong to make a donation, which was supposedly for the anti-doping cause.

He also says that he’s “no fan of the UCI”.

He says that Emma O’Reilly is “one of these people I have to apologise to” and that he’s “reached out to her”.

He can’t remember if he sued her, because “we sued so many people”.

He says suing people for telling the truth is “a major flaw” and “inexcusable”. He says he “understands that there are people who’ll never forgive me”.

Armstrong says that he had a “40-minute” conversation with Betsy Andreu and adds he’s “talked to Frankie too”

He says that the two haven’t “made peace” and refuses to go into specifics over the allegations she made about him.

He says that Floyd Landis was “a tipping point” in the decision, as was his comeback.

He describes how he tried to keep Landis on “my team”.

“[Floyd] felt like the sport didn’t want to take him back,” he recalls.

“We’re sitting here not because of news stories, but because there was a two-year criminal investigation.

“I assumed the stories and accusations would just continue forever.”

When the UCI dropped the case against him, he thought he was “out of the woods”.

“My reaction was the same as it has always been,” when USADA took up the case against him.

“I’d do anything to go back to that day,” he reveals.

He was treated differently to other riders because he was “bigger”.

If he could go back to that moment, he would have confessed to everyone, he claims.

He insists he “loves cycling,” even though he “disrespected the rules”.

“It’s certainly not my place to say ‘let’s clean up cycling’.

“If I’m indited, I’ll be the first man in the door.”

So that’s all for tonight as far as the interview is concerned. We’ll be liveblogging part 2 on Saturday night from about 1am onwards.

More reaction from Twitter – and there isn’t much sympathy for Lance right now.

Here’s a lengthier version of part 1 of the interview:

YouTube credit: NewsPoliticsNow3·

Okay that’s all from me as far as this liveblog is concerned, but we’ll have more reaction shortly.

Thanks for reading, commenting and managing to stay awake with me, and don’t forget to join us tomorrow night if you can bear more dubious remarks.

It wasn’t me: here’s some of Lance Armstrong’s doping denials through the years>

Lance Armstrong case: IOC strips shamed former rider of Olympic medal>

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