Lance Armstrong & Oprah Winfrey: part two interview transcript

Lance Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey

After he to chat show host Oprah Winfrey, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong detailed more revelations in the second instalment of their two-part interview.

Here, BBC Sport looks at some of the key moments from the second part of the "no holds barred" interview in what is one of the most high-profile stories in sporting history.

Armstrong's most humbling moment

Oprah Winfrey: Every article I've seen and everything I've written begins with the word disgraced. Do you feel disgraced?

Lance Armstrong: "Of course but I also feel humbled and I feel ashamed. This is not good stuff."

What was the most humbling moment that brought you face-to-face with yourself?

"I believe it was a Wednesday. [Sponsors] Nike called - this isn't the most humbling moment, I'll get to that - and they said basically that they were out. OK? And then the calls started coming. Trek, Giro, Anheuser-Bush..."

On the same day, the same couple of days?

"Yeah, a couple of days. Everybody out, still not the most humbling moment. Not a fun period."

How did that hit you, though?

"You know, in a way I just assumed we'd get to that point. The story was getting out of control, which was my worst nightmare. I had this place in my mind that they would all leave. The one I didn't think would leave was the [Livestrong] / Foundation.

"That was the most humbling moment. To get that phone call - first to step down as chairman and stay on the board, but that wasn't enough for the people and for our supporters and then a couple of weeks later the next call came to step aside. They said 'we need you to consider stepping down for yourself' and I had to think about it a lot.

"The Foundation is like my sixth child and to make that decision and to step aside was big. It was the best thing for the organisation but it hurt like hell. That was the lowest."

Of everything that has happened in this entire process, in this fall from grace, has that been the toughest?

"That was the lowest, the lowest."

Can Livestrong live without your story?

"I certainly hope so. Yeah, I hope so."

Because your story transcended sports and gave hope to so many people fighting cancer. I have this email that a friend sent to me after finding out I was going to be doing this interview and it said 'I have heard that he is a real jerk but I will always root for Lance. He gave me hope at a very dire time. My first-born son had just been diagnosed with leukaemia two weeks before his first birthday. I'm in intensive care barely able to breathe and my brother sends me Lance's new book, It's Not About the Bike, I read it cover to cover through the night, it showed me that there was hope for my son to not only live but to thrive. I had a choice to make that night on how I would respond to my son's illness and teach him how to face the world. My prayer to Lance is that as he faces his demons he remembers it's not about the bike.


Are you facing your demons?

"Absolutely. Absolutely, yeah. It's a process and I think, you know, we're at the beginning of the process."

What has been the financial cost? Have you lost everything?

"I've lost all future income. You could look at the day and a half when people left. You asked me the cost. I don't like thinking about it but it was a $75m day. All gone and probably never coming back."

How did it hit you?

"I've been to a dark place that was not my doing where I didn't know if I would live a month, six months, a year, five years, 10 years and it has helped me now. This is not a good time but it isn't the worst part of my life. You can't compare this to an advanced diagnosis. That sets the bar. It is close but I'm an optimist and I like to look forward. This has caused me to look back and I don't like that. I'm like my mother like that. We don't talk about the past. I've never spoken about my biological father."

So you came back and you didn't believe it was possible to win seven Tours without doping but you came back not going to dope and you expected to win still?

"Yes, because I thought and still think the sport was very clean. There really was a major shift in the mid-2000s with the biological passports. I thought I was competing on a level playing field.

"I didn't expect to finish third - I expected to win like I always expected and at the end I said I just got beat by two guys who were better. It doesn't sound like what I would say."


Were there people who cared about you who knew about this who wanted you to stop the lying and the doping?


Was there anything they could have said or done?

"Probably not. If I could say one name - Kristin [ex-wife and mother of his eldest three children]. She is a smart lady. She is extremely spiritual and she believes in honesty, integrity and the truth and believes that the truth will set you free. We believe differently on a lot of things. We have three kids together, they deserve the honest truth and a dad that is viewed to them as telling the truth."

Was there anybody who knew the whole truth?


Let's go back to Kristin. Did she have conversations with you about stopping or getting out?

"I saw her at the kids' game two days ago and said if this comes up can I talk about this and she said yes. She was not that curious. Perhaps she didn't want to know. She certainly knew but on a need-to-know basis. I guess I protected her a little bit from that. The thing about her and my doping and this comeback was she was the one person I asked if I could do that, if I could come back.

"It was a big decision. I needed her blessing. And she said to me, you can do it, under one condition, that you never cross that line again [the line of drugs], and I said you've got a deal and I never would have betrayed that with her. It was a serious ask, a serious commitment. She gave me her blessing. If she would have said no, I don't like this idea, I would not have done it. But I gave her my word and I'll stick to it."

You and Kristin have three children together, what do you tell Luke, he's 13, you've been fighting this thing all his life. What do you tell him and the girls what's going on?

"They know a lot. They hear it in the hallways. Their schools, their classmates have been very supportive. Where you lose control with your kids is when they go out of that space, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, in the feedback columns."

But what did you tell him?

"First I want to tell you what happened. When this all really started, I saw my son defending me, and saying that's not true. What you're saying about my dad is not true.

"That's when I knew I had to tell him. And he'd never asked me. He'd never said 'dad, is this true?'. He trusted me. I heard about it in the hallways….."

What did you say to him?

"At that time, nothing, but that's the time I had to say something. I heard he was defending me and it gets ugly and at that point I decided it was out of control and I had to have a talk with him here over the holidays."

What did you say?

"I said there have been a lot of questions about your dad any my career and whether I doped and I've always denied it and been ruthless and defiant which you have seen, which makes it even sicker but I want you to know that it is true. Then there were the girls who are 11 and they didn't say much. They just accepted it and I told Luke 'don't defend me anymore, don't'."

How did he take it?

"He has been remarkably calm and mature about it. I told him 'if anyone says anything to you, do not defend me, just say 'Hey, my dad says he is sorry'. He said 'I love you, you're my dad and this won't change that'. I had expected something.

Did you expect defiance? Anger? Disappointment?

"Thank God he is more like Kristin than he is like me."

What about your mother?

"She is a wreck and she is not the type of person that would call me and say 'Lance, I'm a wreck' but my stepfather called and told me she was having a hard time. I said she is a tough lady and has gotten through every other tough moment. Then we were facetiming with my kids and I saw my mum and she was a wreck. It took seeing her to really realise that this has taken a toll on her life."

Return to sport

A lot of people think you're doing this so you can come back to sport…

"If you're asking me if I want to compete again, the answer is hell yes, I'm a competitor. It's what I've done all my life. I love to train. I love to race, I love to toe the line. And I don't expect it to happen."

Do you want to compete again?

"Not the Tour de France but there are lots of other things I could do but can't do because of this punishment [lifetime ban]. If there is a window, would I like to run the Chicago Marathon when I'm 50? I would love to do that but I can't. I can't compete in any event that is sanctioned by a governing body. I would love the opportunity to compete but that isn't the reason why I'm doing this.

"It might not be the most popular answer but I think I deserve it, maybe not right now. When you see the punishment - I would go back and say you are trading my story for a six-month ban so I got a death penalty meaning I can't compete. I'm not saying that is unfair but it is different."

Are you hoping this conversation, your admission that you wished you had done things differently with Usada, that your lifetime ban will be lifted?

"Er, selfishly, yes. But realistically, I don't think that is going happen and I've got to live with that."

There's been a lot of talk about what you were going to say. What was your intention, your hope that would come out of it?

"The biggest hope and intention was the wellbeing of my children. The older kids need to not be living with this issue in my life. It's not fair what I did to them and also for the little ones, they are two and three. They obviously have no idea but they will learn it. This conversation will live forever. That dumb tweet with yellow jerseys lives for ever. So I've got to get that right for them as they enter the depth of their lives."

The mistakes

Do you think you've got what you deserve? For a long time, you were saying everyone was on the witch hunt for you. Do you think, considering how big you were and what your name and brand stand for, you got what you deserved?

"I deserve to be punished. Not sure I deserve a death penalty."

So was it just you being your cocky, arrogant, jerk self that sent that tweet of you lying there with all the jerseys?

"Yeah, that was another mistake."

The wolves are at your door and you tweet that. What was that?

"That was just more defiance. What's scary is I thought it was a good idea."

You did?

"At the time."

So tell me, when something this gargantuan happens in your life, how has it changed the way you see yourself? Or has it changed the way you see yourself?

"Not completely. This is heavy and this is messy and this is not something I can sit with and then leave and go 'OK, we're all good'."

You mentioned therapy earlier, are you doing therapy?

"Yeah. Over the course of my life, I've done it sporadically. I'm the type of person who needs to not do it sporadically. I've had a messy life, but it's no excuse. This is going to be a long process."

Do you have remorse? Is there real remorse or a sense of sorry you got caught?

"Everybody that gets caught is bummed out they got caught. I'm only starting and I will continue with the ripple effects, people who are sitting there today are still true believers and will hear something different.

"Do I have remorse? Absolutely. Will it grow? Absolutely. This is the first step and these are my actions. I am paying the price but I deserve it."

People he's wronged

Do you owe ]Sunday Times journalist] David Walsh an apology?

"That's a good question."

Do you owe David Walsh an apology, who for 13 years has pursued this story, who wrote for the Times, who has now written books about your story and about this entire process?

"I'd apologise to David. I've had a couple of these conversations."

What do you say to the woman who wrote that email [above] and those millions of people who believed?

"I say I understand your anger, your sense of betrayal. You supported me forever, through all of this and you believed and I lied to you and I'm sorry. I will spend - and I'm committed to spending - as long as I have to make amends knowing full well that I won't get very many back."

Are you in a space where you're not apologising but you can begin to feel how you shattered other people's lives?

"Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I don't need to be back in that place where I can slip like that and take things for granted and abuse privilege. If I had one of my kids act like that, I'd be apoplectic."

We all know when you're famous, people love to see the rise and they also love to see you stumble and fall. Will you rise again?

"I don't know. I don't know. I don't know what's out there. I do not know the outcome here. I'm getting comfortable with that. That would have driven me crazy in the past. I'm getting there. I need to get even more there. I'm deeply sorry for what I did. I can say that thousands of times. It may never be enough to come back."

The Usada donation

Last Wednesday night, Travis Tygart of Usada told 60 Minutes Sports that someone on your team offered a donation which Usada did not accept. He said it was over $150,000. Were you trying to pay off Usada?

"No, that is not true."

That's not true?

"That is not true. In the 1,000-page reasoned decision that they had issued, there was a lot of stuff in there, everything was in there, why wasn't that in there? Pretty big story. Oprah, it's not true."

No-one representing you…

"Nobody, I had no knowledge of that but I asked around. Nobody, not true."

And you are Lance Armstrong and you run your own show so if somebody was going to offer $150,000, you would know about it?

"I think the claim was $250,000, it was broad number but they narrowed it down. That's a lot of money. I would know."

And you're saying that's not true?

"That's not true."

The future

When something like this happens, what you hope is that it causes a change within you. Has it happened to you yet?

"I'd be lying if I said it has. I keep going to the idea and the word 'process' - I have work to do and there is not going to be one tectonic shift."

Are you a better human being today because this happened? Did it help you become a better human being?

"Without a doubt and again this happened twice in my life. When I was diagnosed I was better and smarter after that and then lost my way and this is the second time. It is easy to sit here and say I feel better and smarter but I can't lose my way again.

"Only I can control it and I'm in no position to make promises. I will slip up every now and then. The biggest challenge of the rest of my life is to not slip up again and not lose sight of what I have to do. I had it but things got too big and too crazy. Epic challenge."

It's an epic story. What's the moral to the story?

"I don't have a great answer there. I can look at what I did, cheating to win bike races, lying about it, bullying people, of course you're not supposed to do those things - that's what we teach our children. That's the easy thing. There's another moral to this story. For me, I think it was about that ride and about losing myself and getting caught up in that and doing all those things along the way. And then the ultimate crime is the betrayal of these people who support me and believed in me and they got lied to."

You know what I hope the moral to this story is? It's what Kristin told you: the truth will set you free.

"Yeah. She continues to tell me that."

Top Stories