Lance Armstrong gave a full and frank confession to cheating – but was allowed to dodge some key questions by Oprah Winfrey this morning.
Winfrey opened with six 'yes' or 'no' questions and he said:
YES to using banned substances
YES to having used EPO
YES to having blood transfusions
YES to using testosterone
YES to cheating in all seven Tour de France wins
Then said that 'not in my opinion' could you win the Tour in that era without performance enhancing substances.
In control: Lance Armstrong appeared all too comfortable as he answered Oprah Winfrey's questions
The biography says: 'If scripted by Hollywood, the story would be dismissed as trite melodrama: A deadly disease strikes a promising athlete. Despite desperately thin odds, he manages not only to beat the affliction but also to return to the sport and win its top prize, not once but a record seven times.
'Unbelievable, except it's true.
'But the story doesn't end on the finish line at the Tour de France. His experience made him a part of a cancer community, and motivated him to unleash the same passion and drive he does in bike races to the fight against cancer.
'Since he made history in 1999, he has won the tour six more times, and has become one of the most recognisable and admired people of this era.'
The first 'sorry' came after seven minutes - and there were only three more in 90 minutes - but Armstrong, who looked controlled and cocky, was nothing if not candid, agreeing to answer any question Winfrey threw at him. Later in the interview, it became apparent this was not the case.
He described his career as a 'mythic perfect story' and admitted his confession was probably 'too late' for most people adding that it was 'his fault'. It was 'one big lie I repeated a lot of times,' he said.
Armstrong said his career was built on a cocktail of EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions: 'This story is so bad, so toxic.'
He admitted to being a 'bully' but denied ever issuing a 'directive' to team-mates ordering them to join him in breaking the rules. He did, however, accept that as the leader of the team he made it difficult for those team-mates on the US Postal and Discovery teams not to dope.
In the second part of the extraordinary programme he insisted he did not put unfair pressure on his team-mates to join him in doping.
However, he did admit: 'I was a bully. I tried to control the narrative. And if someone challenged that I would simply say “that's a lie, they are the liars”. I had a win-at-all-costs mentality. The scary thing was, though, that in those seven Tours I knew I was going to win.'
But Armstrong added: 'I didn't invent the culture but I didn't stop it either.'
Armstrong also challenged US Anti-Doping Agency's verdict that the US Postal team operated the most sophisticated drug programme in sporting history. He said it was 'no bigger than the East German programme. It's simply not true.'
Deceit: Armstrong 'won' the Tour de France seven times, all of which came with the help of drugs
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He admitted he 'lost' himself and added: 'I couldn't handle it and I controlled every outcome in my life.'
Armstrong confirmed a number of claims that were made in the book written by former team-mate Tyler Hamilton. One of these claims was the use of his personal gardener, nicknamed 'Motorman', to deliver drugs on a motorcycle to the team in the 1999 tour.
He said it was 'easy' to cheat because in his time there was not much out-of-competition testing, it was just a question of scheduling.
The world watches: Armstrong's interview was beamed around the globe to astonished viewers
If there were frustrating elements of the interview it was Winfrey's failure to pressure him on key issues like his relationship with disgraced Italian doctor Michele Ferarri, and claims by Betsy Andreu that he confessed to drugs in the Indiana University hospital in 1996 when he was battling cancer.
He continues to describe Ferrarri as a 'good man' and Winfrey allowed him to protect the Italian. She also accepted his response when he refused to neither confirm nor deny Andreu's claim that he confessed all to his cancer doctors.
But he did admit to being 'deeply flawed' and issued sincere apologies to both Andreu and Manchester-based former physio Emma O'Reilly. He has even contacted Andreu personally in a 40-minute phone conversation and attempted to contact O'Reilly to apologise.
O'Reilly claimed in the book by David Walsh, LA Confidentiel, that Armstrong escaped punishment for testing positive for cortisone by getting a team doctor to backdate a prescription.
Got your back: Armstrong refused to criticise any previous acquaintances, including doctor Michele Ferrari
Armstrong confirmed that to be true but he denied the UCI were complicit in covering up a positive for EPO at the Tour de Suisse two years later, and that his six-figure donation to the UCI's doping programme was in any way part of that.
He said: 'That story isn't true, there was no positive test.'
Perhaps more frustrating was his refusal to discuss the allegation made by Betsy Andreu in the same Walsh book. He simply would not discuss whether he had rattled off a list of banned substances to doctors and Winfrey's acceptance of that was weak and disappointing.
When reminded by the host that he publicly called Betsy Andreu a 'bitch' and 'crazy', and O'Reilly a 'whore' he admitted it was 'not good'. But he stopped short of fully vindicating Andreu by saying that he was 'not going to take that on' in reference to the hospital incident.
He threatened a number of his detractors with legal action and he was clearly responding to those questions under the advice of his own legal representatives.