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The formerly defiant Lance Armstrong once said, "As long as I live, I will deny ever doping," but sitting face to face with Oprah Winfrey, he reversed course. He lost his icy stare and buried his cutting words. Looking nervous and swallowing hard several times, he admitted to using, through most of his cycling career, a cocktail of drugs, including testosterone, cortisone, human growth hormone and the blood booster EPO.
Yet, like always, Armstrong could not help fighting.
He called his doping regimen simple and conservative, rejecting evidence by the US Anti-Doping Agency that the drug program on his Tour de France-winning teams was "the most sophisticated, organised and professionalised" doping scheme in the history of cycling.
He said that he was not the kingpin of the doping program on his teams, as the USADA claimed, and that he was just doping the way the rest of his teammates were at the time.
He said he had doped, beginning in the mid-1990s, through 2005, the year he won his record seventh Tour. He said that he took EPO, but "not a lot," and that he had rationalised his use of testosterone because one of his testicles had been removed during his battle against cancer.
At times during the interview, Armstrong seemed genuinely humble, admitting that he was "a flawed character" and that he would spend the rest of his life trying to apologise to people and regain their trust. "There will be people who hear this and never forgive me," he said. "I understand that."
But when asked about the people he had tried to crush while he tried to keep his doping secret — people like the former masseuse Emma O'Reilly or his former teammate Frankie Andreu and Andreu's wife, Betsy — he showed little contrition. Those are some of the people who claimed he had doped and who he subsequently publicly claimed were liars. He had called O'Reilly a prostitute and an alcoholic.
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