Highlights of Lance interview, Part 2
One night after Lance Armstrong finally admitted to being the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme that swept him to the top of the podium at the Tour de France time after time, the disgraced former cyclist continued his exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey on Friday night.
The second of the two-part interview -- broadcast on Winfrey's OWN network -- lasted 60 minutes.
And that was the most humbling moment. To get that call (from Livestrong), two parts. One, I stepped down as chairman. Stayed on the board. Stay involved. That wasn't enough. That wasn't enough for the people, for our supporters. And then a couple of weeks later the next call came: 'And we need you to step aside.' ... That was the lowest (point).Lance Armstrong
Here are some highlights:
Oprah: Do you feel disgraced?
Armstrong: Of course. But I also feel humbled. I feel ashamed. This is ugly stuff.
Oprah: What was the humbling moment that brought you face-to- face with yourself?
Armstrong: I believe it was a Wednesday. Nike called. And this isn't the most humbling moment. I'll get to that. They said, basically, cliff notes here, that they're out. OK. And then the calls start coming, Trek, Giro, Anheuser-Busch.
Oprah: The same day?
Armstrong: Same couple days. Everybody out. Still not the most humbling moment. Not a fun period.
Oprah: But how did that hit you, though?
Armstrong: 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. And I had this place in my mind that they would all leave. The one person that I didn't think would leave was the (Livestrong) foundation. ... And that was the most humbling moment. To get that call, two parts. One, I stepped down as chairman. Stayed on the board. Stay involved. That wasn't enough. That wasn't enough for the people, for our supporters. And then a couple of weeks later the next call came: 'And we need you to step aside.' ... And I don't think it was -- it wasn't we need you to step down. It was we need you to consider stepping down for yourself. And I had to think about that a lot. And this is -- none of my kids have said, 'Dad, you're out.' None of my friends said, 'Lance, you're out.' The foundation is like my sixth child. And to make that decision and to step aside was -- that was big."
Oprah: Of everything that's happened in this entire process, in this fall from grace, has that been the hardest?
Armstrong: That was the lowest. The lowest.
Oprah: Can Livestrong live without your story?
Armstrong: I certainly hope so. Yeah. I hope so.
Oprah: Do you think that banned substances contributed to you getting cancer?
Armstrong: I don't think so. I'm not a doctor. I've never had a doctor tell me that or suggest that. To me personally. But I don't believe so.
Oprah: Do you owe David Walsh an apology, who for 13 years has pursued this story, who wrote for the (Sunday) Times, who has now written books about you and this entire process?
Armstrong: I would apologize to David.
Oprah: A lot of people think you're doing this interview because you want to come back to the sport.
Armstrong: If you're asking me do I want to compete again? The answer is hell yes. I'm a competitor. It's what I've done my whole life. I love to train. I love to race. I love to toe the line. If I was -- and I don't expect it to happen.
Oprah: You want to compete again on the bicycle? You want to run races on the bike?
Armstrong: Not the Tour de France, but there's a lot of other things that I could do but I can't. With this penalty and with this punishment, which again I made my bed. But if there was ever a window, would I like to run the Chicago Marathon when I'm 50? I would love to do that. And I can't. ... I can't lie to you. I'd love the opportunity to be able to compete. But that isn't the reason I'm doing this. Frankly, this may not be the most popular answer. But I think I deserve it. Maybe not right now, but if you look at the situation, if you look at the culture, you look at the sport, you see the punishments, that's what I told you if I could go back to that time and say, 'OK, you're trading my story for a six-month suspension, that's what people got.'
Oprah: Which is what other people got.
Armstrong: What everybody got. So I got a death penalty and they got ...
Oprah: Meaning you could never compete again.
Armstrong: In anything. And I'm not saying that that's unfair necessarily, but I'm saying it's different.
Oprah: Do you think you've gotten what you deserve? For a long time you were saying everybody was on the witch hunt, on the witch hunt, on the witch hunt for you. Do you think in this moment, considering how big you were, what that meant, how much people believed, what your name and brand stood for.
Oprah: All of that?
Armstrong: I deserve to be punished. I'm not sure that I deserve a death penalty.
Oprah: So tell me when something this gargantuan happens in your life, how has it changed the way you see yourself? Or has it? Has it changed the way you see yourself?
Armstrong: Not completely. No, this is heavy. And this is messy, and this is not something that I can sit with you and leave and go, 'OK, we're all good. Or I can.'
Oprah: You mentioned therapy a minute ago. Are you doing therapy?
Armstrong: Over the course of my life, I've done it sporadically. And I'm the type of person that needs to not do it sporadically. It needs to be consistently. I've had a messy life. It's no excuse. But this is going to be a long process.
Oprah: So do you have remorse? Is there real remorse or is there a sense of I'm sorry I got caught and sorry I had to go through all of this, wish this hadn't happened?
Armstrong: Everybody that gets caught is bummed out they got caught. I am only starting -- I will continue -- listen, when this comes out, the ripple effects. ...
Oprah: Of people analyzing what you said and how you said it?
Armstrong: And people that still are sitting there today that are true believers; they're going to hear something totally different. So do I have remorse? Absolutely. Will I continue to? Will it grow? Will I -- absolutely. This is, for me, this is just the first steps. And again, these are my actions. I'm paying the price but I deserve it.
Oprah: When something like this happens, what you hope is that it leaves an impression that causes a shift or a change within you. Has that happened? With you yet?
Armstrong: I'd be lying if I said that it has. Again, I keep going to this word and this idea of process. I got work to do. And it's -- I can't -- there's not going to be one tectonic shift here that says, 'OK, he's on his way, he's good now.'
Oprah: Were there people who cared about you who knew about this? Who wanted you to stop it? Stop the lying. Stop the doping?
Armstrong: Of course.
Oprah: Was there anything they could have said or done?
Armstrong: Probably not. And I'm going to name. ... If I could say one name it would be Kristin (Armstrong's former wife, with whom he has three children). She's a smart lady. She's extremely spiritual. She believes in honesty and integrity and the truth. She believes that the truth will set you free. We believed differently on a lot of things. She may come at it from a religious standpoint where I may not. It doesn't matter. We have three kids together. They deserve the honest truth. They deserve a dad that is viewed as telling the truth to them, to the public. Anna has always wanted that. She doesn't know that whole story back then because we weren't together.
Oprah: Had she had conversations with you about stopping or getting out?
Armstrong: And I asked Kristin -- I saw her at the kids' game two days ago, I said if this comes up, can I talk about this? And she said yes. She was not -- she wasn't that curious. Perhaps she didn't want to know. She certainly knew but didn't -- need-to-know basis. I guess I protected her a little bit from that. The thing about her and my doping and this comeback, she was the one person that I asked if I could do that. ... If I could come back. I figured if I'm going to do this, it was a big decision. I need her blessing. And she said to me: 'You can do it under one condition, that you never cross that line again.'
Oprah: The line of drugs?
Armstrong: Yes. And I said, 'You got a deal.' And I never would have betrayed that with her. It was a serious ask. It was 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 did stick to it.
Oprah: So you thought you were coming back into a clean sport and a level playing field. How was it for you to come in third, you who loves to win -- win at all costs?
Armstrong: I didn't expect to get third. I expected to win. Like I always expected. And at the end I said to myself: You know, I just got beat by two guys that are better. That's why we have the events. I know that doesn't sound like something I would say, but I did everything I could in training, and I just got beat.
Oprah: You just were talking about Kristin. You have three children together. What do you tell Luke? You've been fighting this -- Luke's 13. You've been fighting this thing his entire life. What do you tell Luke? He's 13, he's old enough to know what's going on.
Armstrong: They know a lot. They hear it in the hallways, not a lot ... 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. Then the feedback comes.
Oprah: What did you tell him?
Armstrong: 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.' And it almost goes to this question of why now? He can't -- yeah. That's when I knew I had to tell him. And he never asked me. He never said, 'Dad, is this true?' He trusted me. And I heard about it in the hallways.
Oprah: You heard he was defending you.
Armstrong: To other kids on Instagram, replying, it gets ugly. And then I had to -- at that point I decided I have to say something. This is out of control. Then I had to have that talk with him, which was just here over the holidays.
Oprah: What did you say?
Armstrong: I said, 'Listen, there's been a lot of questions about your dad. My career, whether I doped or did not dope. I've always denied that and I've always been ruthless and defiant about that, you guys have seen that, that's probably why you trusted me on it.' Which makes it even sicker. I said, 'I want you to know that it's true.' And there was the girls (Armstrong's twin daughters with Kristin), who were 11. They're twins, as you know. And Luke. And they didn't say much. They didn't say, 'But, wait, dad,' they just accepted it. And I told Luke, I said ... I said, 'Don't defend me anymore. Don't.'
Oprah: How did he take it?
Armstrong: He's been remarkably calm and mature about this. I said if anybody says anything to you, they're going to see this. Some kid says something, do not defend me. Just say, 'Hey, my dad said he was sorry.' He said, 'OK.'
Oprah: Did he say anything?
Armstrong: Just said, 'Look, I love you. You're my dad. This won't change that.' I'd expected -- I guess you always expect something.
Oprah: Are you hoping with this conversation, your admission, you're saying you wish you had done things differently with USADA, that your lifetime ban from competition would be lifted? Are you hoping that?
Armstrong: Selfishly, yes. But realistically, I don't think that's going to happen. And I have to live with that. I gotta sit with that.
Oprah: Certainly people are discussing -- a lot of talk about why you're doing it and what you were going to say and how you were going to say it. What was your intention or hope that would come out of it?
Armstrong: Listen, the biggest hope and intention was the well-being of my children. It really was. The older kids need to not be living with this issue in their lives. That isn't fair. For me to have done to them and I did it. And also for the little ones who have no idea, they're 2 and 3. They have -- Oprah, they obviously have no idea, but they will learn it. This conversation will live forever. Everything that we do today, that dumb tweet with the yellow jerseys lives forever. So I gotta get that right for them as they enter the depth of their lives. That was a $75 million day.
Oprah: Last Wednesday night Travis Tygart of USADA told "60 Minutes (Sports)" someone offered a donation, which USADA did not accept. He said it was over $150,000. Were you trying to pay off USADA?
Armstrong: No. That's not true. ... That is not true. And in the thousands-page reasoned decision that they 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.
Oprah: No one representing you ...
Armstrong: Nobody. Certainly I had no knowledge of that. But I've asked around: Did anybody? Not true.
Oprah: What has been the cost, the financial cost? Have you lost everything?
Armstrong: I've lost -- certainly lost all future income.
Armstrong: You could look at the day or those two days or the day and a half where people left. And I want to give you a number. You asked me the cost. I don't like thinking about it. But that was -- I don't know. That was a $75 million day. ... Gone. Gone. And probably never coming back.
Oprah: Were you ever in the position where you felt like, 'Wow, I don't want to get out of bed.' I know you've been running and jogging. Did it hit you to the point of: I don't know what to do?
Armstrong: I've been to a dark place that was not my doing. I've been to a place where I didn't know if I was going to live a month, six months, a year, five years, 10 years. It's helped me now. I mean, this is not a good time. But it isn't the worst part of my life. I mean, you cannot compare this to a diagnosis and an advanced diagnosis. Fifty/50 odds or whatever the odds are. That sets the bar. This close. But I'm an optimist. And I like to look forward. This has caused me to look back. My mom and I -- we're very similar in this regard. She doesn't look back. We don't talk about the past. We don't talk about what happened. I've never asked her about my biological father. I've never sat down -- we just don't go there.
Oprah: How is she handling all of this?
Armstrong: She's a wreck. She's not the type of person that would call me up and say, 'Lance, I'm a wreck.' But my stepfather called me and said your mom's having a really hard time. And I said, 'I'm sure.' But she's a tough lady. She's gotten through every other tough moment in her life. Just pointing that out there. And we were facetiming with her grandkids and my kids back and forth, and I saw my mom. And I thought, 'Oh, this woman's a wreck.' ... And it took seeing her to really understand that this is taking a toll on her life.
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, and I think for me I just think it was about that ride and about losing myself and getting caught up in that and doing all of those things along the way that just enabled that. And then the ultimate crime is the betrayal of these people that supported me and believed in me and they got lied to.Lance Armstrong
Oprah: Are you now in a space, as you called former friends, friends, associates, (Sunday) night to apologize, are you in a space where you're not just apologizing but you can begin to feel how you shattered other people's lives? Are you in that space yet?
Armstrong: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And we don't need to -- I don't need to be back in that place where I can slip like that and take things for granted and abuse privilege. To go back -- if I had a child -- one of my kids -- we watched those tapes. If I had one of my kids act like that, I'd be epileptic.
Oprah: We all know that when you're famous, people love to see the rise, the heroic rise, and they also love to see you stumble and fall. Will you rise again?
Armstrong: I don't know. I don't know. I don't know what -- I don't know what's out there. And again I go to this thing. I do not know the outcome here. And I'm getting comfortable with that. That would have driven me crazy in the past. And I've got -- I'm getting there. I gotta get even more there. I don't know. I'm deeply sorry for what I did. I can say that thousands of times, and it may never be enough. To get back, you're asking me if I can come back?
Oprah: More importantly than your comeback, I'm not as interested in your comeback to the sports world, I'm more interested in what's going to happen to you as a man, as a man, as a human being. Are you a better human being today because this happened? Did this help you become a better human being?
Armstrong: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. And, again, this happened twice in my life. When I was diagnosed (with cancer), I was a better human being after that, and I was a smarter human being after that. Then I lost my way. ... And here's the second time. And it's easy to sit here and say I feel different, I feel smarter, I feel like a better man today. But I can't lose my way again. And only I can control that. And I'm in no position to make promises. I'm going to slip up every now and again. But that is the biggest challenge the rest of my life is to not slip up again and to not lose sight of what I gotta do. I had it. And then it just -- things got too big. Things got too crazy. So epic challenge.
Oprah: It's an epic story. What's the moral to the story?
Armstrong: 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, and I think for me I just think it was about that ride and about losing myself and getting caught up in that and doing all of those things along the way that just enabled that. And then the ultimate crime is the betrayal of these people that supported me and believed in me and they got lied to.