After several years in denial, Lance Armstrong finally admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his long professional cycling career. Often considered to be one of the greatest American athletes ever, in addition to being one of the world’s most famous, Armstrong now joins an infamous select group of professional athletes who vehemently denied cheating, then buckling under enormous pressure to come clean, while begging for the public’s forgiveness.
In the first half of an interview that aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network and via her website this evening, Ms. Winfrey immediately asked the most pressing questions that demanded an answer from a somber Armstrong – In succession, he affirmed that he used performance enhancing substances, EPO, blood doping, transfusions, used HGH, cortisone, testosterone, other banned substances and used illegal substances in all seven of his consecutive Tour de France victories.
Now 41 and banned for life from professional cycling by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Armstrong’s admission represents an epic fall from grace in a drug-enhanced career that began in the 1990s and made a fortune worth an estimated $100-125 million. In addition to being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last October, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also stripped Armstrong of the bronze medal he earned during the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney.
Lance Armstrong’s responses to Oprah Winfrey’s inquiry were mostly short, cursory responses and frequently with a “yes” or a “no.” However he did apologize by saying:
"It's a major flaw, and it's a guy who expected to get whatever he wanted and to control every outcome. And it's inexcusable. And when I say there are people who will hear this and never forgive me, I understand that. I do."
Many cycling analysts and fans suspect that Armstrong finally relented despite lying under oath because he wants to return to athletic competition such as a marathon. Yet now that he has confessed to a multitude of illegal substance use over a span of nearly 20 years, the fallen hero may slapped with an equal amounts of lawsuits that are likely to argued for many more years.
There are millions of fans who have admired and respected Lance Armstrong, particularly for his battle to overcome stage three testicular cancer. Three years after he was first diagnosed, he won his first of seven consecutive Tour de France titles, an incredible feat, given that no other cyclist in Tour de France history had won more than five.
During his long run at the Tour, legions of fans worldwide donated millions to his non-profit organization, Livestrong for cancer research and these same fans wore his products, from yellow wristbands to Livestrong jerseys. Yet now after years of the adulation and idolization of Lance Armstrong, he said of his admission in tonight’s interview is “too late, too late probably for most people and that’s my fault. I view this situation as one big lie….” Yes it is probably too late for forgiveness from everyone at the Livestrong Foundation, to fans, friends and family. And yes, it is certainly his fault. Time will only tell what will be written in this second half of Lance Armstrong’s life.