Lance Armstrong comes clean to Oprah

10:02 PM, Jan 17, 2013   |    comments
This file photo released by Oprah Winfrey Network on January 15, 2013, shows Oprah Winfrey (R) interviewing Lance Armstrong.(Photo: George Burns, AFP/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO (AP) -- Lance Armstrong confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, reversing more than a decade of denial.

"Yes," Armstrong said when Winfrey asked if he used a series of drugs to help his record run.

Sitting in a chair across from Winfrey, Armstrong said he could not have won the race seven times without the drugs and gave a small smile.

Armstrong was stripped of all his titles in the wake of a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report last October and banned for life from competing in triathlons and other sanctioned events. He also lost nearly all his sponsors and left the Livestrong cancer charity he founded in 1997.

The interview was taped Monday.

UPDATES FROM USA TODAY:

9:55 p.m. -- "No, I didn't fail a test," Lance says, before falling back on the technicality that he didn't fail a test until samples were re-tested.

9:53 p.m. -- Still in commercials. OWN apparently intends to go from the red to the black in one night.

9:51 p.m. -- The first two commercials of this break mention stress. Another features a kid riding a bike. If the next one features a man with his pants on fire, I'm going to suspect these aren't coincidences.

9:49 p.m. -- He tears up when talking about how he'll have to apologize to people the rest of his life. I may be wrong, but I can't remember him apologizing during the first 49 minutes of this interview.

9:47 p.m. -- Lance says cheating didn't feel wrong, nor did he feel bad about it. He also says he didn't feel he was cheating. Any goodwill he'd receive from those answers is negated when he follows up by saying he didn't realize how "big" this was at the time.

9:46 p.m. -- Was he happy when he won big races? "There was more happiness in the process, in the build, in the preparation. The winning was almost phoned in."

9:45 p.m. -- We're at the halfway point. To recap: Lance admits to doping during all seven Tour de France titles, says he never forced teammates to dope, claims there were only five clean riders in cyclin and says he's a bully, jerk and humanitarian. Also, there are a lot of Swiffer commercials on OWN.

9:43 p.m. -- Every time Oprah says something tough, Armstrong clears his throat. It's Pavlovian. He just did it while Oprah showed a clip of him talking to his critics while on the podium after winning his seventh Tour de France. "I can't reconcile this," she says before asking him what he was thinking. Lance dodges an answer. "I don't know," he said for the umpteenth time.

9:40 p.m. -- It's around this time Lance probably realized Oprah isn't going to give him a car.

9:37 p.m. -- Lance says he's a jerk and a humanitarian. Somewhere in Haiti, Sean Penn just angrily turned off his television.

9:35 p.m. -- If you're ranking one-word answers from Lance in order of least-to-most frequent: "Yes," "no," and "uhhhh."

9:29 p.m. -- Though she'll never be confused with Mike Wallace, Oprah is doing a fine job so far. Biggest issue: She's not pressing with follow-up questions. Peter Gammons nods from afar.

9:27 p.m. -- You know, sometimes I get the feeling Lance Armstrong isn't being completely honest with us.

9:25 p.m. -- Armstrong is fiddling with his hands like a fourth-grader in the principal's office. He admits he was a "bully" while leading the cycling team, but insists he never forced riders to dope.

9:22 p.m. -- "I'm not the most believable guy in the world right now, I understand."

9:17 p.m. -- The first commercial. OWN isn't available in HD on my suburban D.C. cable provider. This is mostly terrible, except for the benefit of making this interview feel like it's from 2004, when it should have taken place.

9:15 p.m. -- He didn't use PEDs when he made his comeback. The unsuccessful comeback, you may remember.

9:13 p.m. -- Armstrong blames his cancer for his illegal use of testosterone. He insinuates that he took it because he was running low on the natural hormone. Remember that poll that asked Americans whether they liked Congress better than things like cockroaches, rainy days and the Kardashians? They may have a new target question after tonight.

9:11 p.m. -- The evasion of questions has begun. Oprah asks a pointed question about whether Tyler Hamilton's claim that he and Armstrong injected each other at a hotel and dumped syringes into Coke cans is true. Armstrong laughed, cleared his throat and dodged the question.

9:07 p.m. -- Armstrong says there are "five guys" who were riding clean during his cycling days. They are "heroes." Nice guys do finish last, apparently.

9:03 p.m. -- Oprah doesn't waste any time and cuts right to the chase. She begins the interview by asking Armstrong a series of "yes" or "no" questions. He responds yes to each, admitting that he used performance-enhancing drugs, took part in blood doping and took human-growth hormones. When asked whether he used PEDs in all seven of his Tour de France wins, he answered in the affirmative.

9:01 p.m. -- Here we go. After a short introduction with dramatic music and various news clips, the interview begins. Lance is dressed smartly in a sport coat with no tie. Oprah is wearing a light-colored dress. They are facing each other in cushioned chairs. A table in the middle holds two glasses of water, both with bendy straws. There is no couch on the set, which is an early disappointment for those hoping Lance would jump on one while proclaiming his love for PEDs.

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