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Lance Armstrong Admits Using Performance Enhancers in Emotional Interview

ROUBAIX, FRANCE - APRIL 08:  Seven times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong attended the 2012 Paris Roubaix cycle race from Compiegne to Roubaix on April 8, 2012 in Paris, France. The 110th edition of the race is 257km long with 51.5km of cobbles spread over 27 sections.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJanuary 17, 2013

In an emotional interview aired during "Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive" on Thursday, Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career.

Sports Illustrated reporter Chris Mannix summed it up:

Lance Armstrong tells Oprah, 'Yes,' I took banned substances to enhance performance. Says he took EPO, blood doped, took PED's.

— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) January 18, 2013

And, BBC Sport mentioned that he was upset when reports surfaced in 2009:

BREAKING: Lance Armstrong insists that 2005 was the last time he doped and says the 2009 suspicious blood claim USADA report "upset him"

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 18, 2013

BBC Sport also noted that Armstrong still maintains that he didn't fail a test:

Lance Armstrong: "I didn’t fail a test. Retroactively, I failed one. Hundreds I passed because there was nothing in the system.” #BBCLance

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 18, 2013

Armstrong hinted toward his approach toward his drug program (via Yahoo! Sports' Jay Busbee):

Armstrong saying that his drug program was "conservative" and "risk-averse" is perhaps not giving the message he wants to give.

— Jay Busbee (@jaybusbee) January 18, 2013

Even though this may seem abnormal to some of us, Armstrong made note of how common this practice was and made it seem necessary (via CBC radio host Doug Dirks):

Lance Armstrong says doping on his team was like "having air in our tires, or water in our bottles" #yyc #

— Doug Dirks (@cbcDougDirks) January 18, 2013

After several admissions though, Armstrong did mention that he was sorry (via BBC Sport):

"I didn't invent the culture but I didn't stop it but I'm here to say sorry for it," Lance Armstrong tells Oprah Winfrey. #BBCLance

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 18, 2013

Many will look at this interview though and find it hard to feel bad for Armstrong. ESPN's Andrew Brandt speaks to the notion of how calculated everything looks:

Lance's casual mention of "scheduling" sounds so innocent, belies a calculated and coordinated strategy of enhancing performance.

— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) January 18, 2013

It's especially hard to feel sympathy while Armstrong denies remorse about winning his seven Tour de France titles (via BBC Sport):

"It did not feel wrong to win the Tour de France and I did not feel bad about it. I did not feel I was cheating," says Lance Armstrong

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 18, 2013

According to Sports Illustrated, he may not have felt any remorse towards winning because he didn't feel like he was gaining an advantage:

Armstrong: "The definition of cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn't do it that way."

— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 18, 2013

Armstrong was stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles in October after the United States Anti-Doping Agency ruled to ban the world-renowned cyclist from all Olympic competition for life (via the New York Times).

As could be expected, Armstrong showed great emotion during the interview with Oprah. After an illustrious cycling career, it's been nothing but negative publicity surrounding the 41-year-old Texas native.

Armstrong's admission was also expected, given the Associated Press reported on Monday that he had spilled the beans to Oprah before the airing of the interview.

It's a sad turn for a man who was once universally lauded as one of the greatest cyclists of all time. Not only did Armstrong win seven Tour de France titles, he did it in succession from 1999-2005.

Armstrong is also a cancer survivor. He established the Livestrong Foundation in 1997, which aims to provide support for people affected by cancer. He apologized to the staff at the foundation on Monday and hopes to repair its tarnished image (according to the Associated Press, via ESPN).

The effects of the allegations and Armstrong's admission should be felt for years to come for the historic cyclist. The shower of praise that once was bestowed upon him has disintegrated into criticism and disappointment. On top of that, it has hurt cycling's image and added it to the growing number of sports that have become tarnished by the use of PEDs.

Armstrong's emotional interview with Oprah on Thursday only cemented the idea that his legacy has crumbled.

Part two of the interview airs Friday, January 18, at 9 p.m. EST on OWN.

 

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