Live Commentary: Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah Winfrey - as it happened

Lance Armstrong
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Sports Mole's live text commentary of Lance Armstrong's long-awaited interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Lance Armstrong's hotly-anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey began this morning, in the first of a two part broadcast which looked to question the 41-year-old on the issue of doping.

Armstrong started by admitting to using performance enhancing drugs including EPO, testosterone, blood transfusions and cortisone injections during to help him win all seven Tour de France titles.

Winfrey moved on to question Armstrong about his involvement in the culture of cheating in cycling and ask how he could continue to sue anyone who accused him of doping despite knowing their accusations rang true.

Look back at a whirlwind exchange with Sports Mole's live text commentary of the 90-minute exchange below.


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1.36amHi guys. The wait is nearly over to hear from Lance Armstrong after a week of indications that he will come clean about doping during his cycling career.

1.38amOprah Winfrey is the lucky person handed the task of grilling Armstrong, and declared earlier this week that she had 112 questions for the former Tour de France champ. Just how many of that considerable list of questions did she pose? We are around 20 minutes away from finding out.

1.40amThe interview was recorded earlier this week but due to a wealth of material is being broadcast across two nights. Tonight is part one and will set the tone for the exchange.

1.42amLet's just give you some of the background to tonight's interview in the short time we have before kickoff. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and branded a "serial cheat" by United States Anti-Doping Agency last October.

1.44pmThe report into Armstrong's conduct claimed that he was at the top of the most sophisticated, professional and successful doping programme cycling has ever seen.

1.48amA host of coverage in the lead up to tonight's broadcast has confirmed Armstrong has made a confession, but to what extent? The legal and financial ramifications of his words tonight could be huge, so expect him to choose his words carefully.

1.49amA degree of pressure also falls on Winfrey, as she is in a privileged position to get some of the answers craved by both the sport of cycling and the general public who took Armstrong to their hearts.

1.51amWhy Armstrong decided that the time was right to speak is open to debate. He may hope for redemption or to secure a return to sport by coming clean. A keen Ironman competitor, the 41-year-old may realise time is running out to restore his shattered reputation.

1.53amWe are around 10 minutes away from the start of the programme. Time to go in with an open mind, and more importantly for me an empty notebook. Time to test that shorthand and bring you every word I can from perhaps the biggest TV interview of the year.

1.55amOprah was forced to do the rounds on breakfast television this week after a leak brought the interview's contents into the public domain earlier than anticipated. Here's what she had to say:

1.57amThe interview is being shown on the OWN Network, Oprah's own channel in the US and simulcast on Discovery in the UK. Since launching OWN has struggled to match expectations so tonight's interview is a real coup for the ailing enterprise.

1.59amThe constantly changing news landscape of this story took another twist this week, with reports emerging that Armstrong is set to be stripped of his Olympic bronze medal, which he won in the time trial event in Sydney 13 years ago.

2amJust about ready to get underway on Discovery. Here we go!

2.02amAn intro brings home just how long Armstrong denied any wrongdoing. The famous, "I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles" quote.

2.03amOprah: "When we first met we agreed there would be no conditions, that this would be an open field. Let's start with a simple yes or no. Yes or no did you take banned substances and was one of the EPO?"

2.04amAmstrong has admitted to using EPO, blood transfusions and cortisone. "Earlier in my career there was cortosone and then EPO generation began in the mid '90s."

2.05amOprah: "Why come forward and admit it now?"

2.05amArmstrong: "This is probably too late. I see this situation as one big lie. While I've lived through this process I know the truth. The story was just so perfect and it wasn't true."

Armstrong:"I'm a flawed character. I helped paint that perfect picture, all the fall should blame on me. I lost myself in it all, I couldn't handle it."

2.07am"Now the story is so bad, I'm not here to talk about others but I was part of a doping culture and now the sport is paying the price. I'm sorry for that."

2.08amOprah is now reading the USADA report back to Armstrong. Here's his reply.

2.09amArmstrong: "It was smart sure, but to say it was worse than the East German case in the '80s, I don't think so."

2.09am"I can't tell you if everyone was doing it, I made my choice and I have to live with that."

2.10amA short pause for breath as we hear from Tyler Hamilton and get a wider look at the report into the US Postal Team's conduct during that era.

2.11amOprah: "How were you able to do it, the mechanics of it? You said it was no-holds barred, were you blood doping at stage 11 of the 2000 tour?"

2.12amArmstrong: "I certainly didn't read Tyler's book. I viewed it all as very simple. We had things that were oxygen-boosting drugs that were incredibly beneficial for endurance sports. My cocktail so to speak was EPO, transfusions and testosterone."

2.13am"I was not afraid of getting caught. In the old days they didn't come to your house or training camps. There was no testing out of competition."

2.15am"It was all a question of scheduling. I'm no fan of UCI but they brought in the biological passport and that changed everything."

2.16am"I did not dope in 2009, the last time I crossed the line (using doping) was 2005. The last two years I did the tour did I cheat, absolutely not."

2.18amA quick ad break. Phew that was a blistering start! Straight to the point, cold and calculating - Armstrong admits to being a cheat throughout his career.

2.19amOprah was surprisingly forceful in that opening segment, simple yes or no to establish the tone of the interview.

2.20amStill more than an hour left of tonight's broadcast, plenty more to delve into.

2.22amWe are back and onto the subject of Armstrong's involvement with US Postal team.

2.22amOprah: "Were you the one in charge? Could you get someone fired?"

2.22amArmstrong: "If you're asking me if someone said 'I won't dope', could I get them fired, absolutely not."

2.23am"We were grown men, we all made our own choices."

2.23amArmstrong flatly denies accusations from Christian Vande Velde, who said he was told he would be kicked out of the team if he did not conform to the doping culture of the era.

2.23amOprah: "I don't want to split hairs but there were other teams doing the same."

2.24am"I was a bully because I tried to control the narrative and if I didn't like it I tried to change it."

Armstrong:"I've always been a fighter and before my diagnosis I was a competitor, but not a fierce competitor. I took that ruthless attitude right into cycling, and that's bad."

Oprah:"When did you become that bully and how important to you was winning?"

2.25amArmstrong: "In my view that was part of the job, it was like having air in your tyres."

2.30amTime for another break. Armstrong has put his flag firmly in the ground here, 'I was no different to a whole host of guys on the tour'. But he helped drive the culture and profited from the enhancement in performance more than any other rider of that era. But the 41-year-old flatly denies cheating in 2009 despite all his admissions.

2.33amArmstrong's words look carefully considered and with years to think about them, that is hardly a surprise.

2.36amOprah is right back onto the question - did Lance force other riders to dope in his team? The controversial figure Dr. Ferrari has been mentioned for the first time.

2.38amOprah has brought in a video tape, where Armstrong flatly denies that Ferrari ever had any involvement in doping and actually actively tried to keep the sport clean.

2.39pmOprah Would that be your same response today?

2.39am"I'm not comfortable talking about other people."

Oprah:David Walsh of the Sunday Times said that your involvement with Ferrari was the trigger for questions to be raised. Do you agree?

2.40am"Yes, I was reckless during that time of my life, that's a fair characterisation. I am deeply flawed."

2.40amOprah has moved onto the wider question of fame and how it affected Lance's actions.

Armstrong:"Listen I deserve all this, I'm not sitting here and saying 'Hey Oprah, I'm getting screwed here."

2.42am"I look at the clip and think, look at this arrogant prick, it's not good."

2.42amOprah has dug up the famous clip of Armstrong claiming his seventh title, "I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles."

2.42am"Watching that, it was definitely a mistake. That was the first year they gave the mic to the winner of the tour. That just came out but looking at it now it feels ridiculous."

2.43amOprah's asked if there was happiness in winning when he knew he was taking substances to achieve it.

2.45am"It was more in the process. At the time, did it feel wrong, no. That's scary. I didn't feel about it either, and that's even scarier."

2.45am"I looked up the definition of cheat and it's to gain advantage or a cheat or foe. I didn't see it that way, I viewed it as a level playing field."

2.46amOprah: "What do you mean by you didn't know or understand? Presidents are calling, you're dating rockstars, how could you not know?"

2.46am"I see the anger in people and I'm beginning to understand it. I'll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologise."

2.48amAnother break, hope we get onto the subject of lawsuits soon. Armstrong aggressively pursued and won damages from any publication or person that levelled the very accusations he is admitting to tonight. Will he pay back that compensation I wonder?

2.51amAnd we are back. Oprah just asked Lance if he has a different answer to the question has he ever failed a test.

2.55amArmstrong has flatly denied ever testing positive at the Tour de Suisse, which Tyler Hamilton blew the whistle on in an interview with 60 Minutes Sports.

2.57amOprah: "Was your donation to the UCI in any way a mechanism to help cover up any positive tests?"

2.58amArmstrong: "Absolutely not, I'm gonna tell you what's true and not true, and that never happened."

2.59amArmstrong admits to Emma O'Reilly's story that a prescription was backdated to cover up a positive steroid test.

3amOprah: "You were suing people and you knew they were telling the truth, what is that?" She's angry!

3.01amIt was a person who wanted to control every single outcome. I understand that some people will never forgive me.

3.02amBetsy Andreu is next on the admission list. She testified that she heard Armstrong admit to using performance enhancing drugs at an Indiana hospital in 1996.

Armstrong:"I've spoken to her on the phone, it was 40 minute call. We haven't made peace because they've been hurt too badly."

3.04am"You went after these people for all these years. How do you feel about calling Emma O'Reilly a whore. Were you just trying to put her down or shut her up?"

3.05am"It was just attack mode, my team, my reputation were all under threat so I went on the attack."

3.06amThe word bully doesn't quite do Armstrong justice in those instances. He systematically broke any person that threatened to blow the whistle on his actions, with careers, reputations and livelihoods all left in tatters.

3.09amGearing up for the final few segments of tonight's half of the interviews. Lots more still to address.

3.10amFloyd Landis has entered the equation. He blew the whistle on Lance Armstrong a few years ago.

3.11am"That was the tipping point. I might back it up a little and say the comeback was the start of the abyss."

3.12amOprah: "Would you say you rebuffed Floyd?"

3.12am"Well we didn't give him a spot on the team, which he wanted. I tried to keep him on 'my team' quote unquote. But to say I shunned him, I'm not sure. I think he feels like the sport did. I don't regret coming back, we wouldn't be sitting here if I did."

Oprah:"Did you not always think that this day was coming, that this would come out if so many people knew?"

3.15amOprah has now mentioned the investigation by the department of justice, which was dropped last year in suspicious circumstances.

Oprah:"When they dropped the case, did you think it was over, done, victory?"

3.17am"It's hard to define victory but yes, I thought the wolves had left the door. And those were some serious wolves."

3.18am"What was your reaction when USADA decided to pick up the case?"

3.19am"I would do anything to go back to that day. I would not contest the case, I would listen. Granted I was treated differently and that's OK."

3.19am"In hindsight I would say listen, give me three days to call everyone and tell them what I'm gonna do. I wish I could do that but I can't."

3.20am"I love cycling, and I know people will say how can you knowing you disrespected the sport, the tour, the yellow jersey. If there was a truth and reconciliation commission, I'd be the first man at the door."

3.22amThat's just about it for today. Well that was a whirlwind hour or so! Part two will pick things up at the same time tomorrow night. Topics look to include his sponsors, family reaction and that infamous tweet of his seven Yellow jerseys. Plenty more to this story yet.

3.25amDespite knowing Lance was going to confess to doping in some shape of form, to actually hear his admission after years of denial was a shock to the system.

3.26amNo-holds barred was the tagline, but the level of admission still felt like Armstrong was dictating the terms. Winfrey did far more to force a few issues that I had expected, for example the notion that he forced other riders into to dope with a 'with us or against' us mentality.

3.28amThat brings an end to part one of the interview and our coverage. Thanks for joining us and be sure to check in tomorrow night for round two.

Lance Armstrong
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