In the interview with Oprah Winfrey, the 41-year-old admitted for the first time that an array of performance-enhancing drugs helped sweep him to a record seven Tour de France titles.
Armstrong said that if confession could help him regain a place in sport — in triathlons or marathons — he’d jump at it. “Hell yes, I’m a competitor,” Armstrong said, adding that he didn’t think he deserved the “death penalty” of a lifetime ban.
Genuine emotion seeped through on Saturday with Armstrong’s eyes reddening and his voice cracking as he described telling his 13-year-old son Luke: “Don’t defend me anymore” when his transgressions at last caught up with him.
3.2 million tune in
Friday’s first installment of the interview was a ratings winner for Winfrey, with its estimated 3.2 million viewers in the United States making it the second-most-watched show ever on her fledgling OWN network.
‘Cycling will pay’
Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck said that today’s riders would pay the price for the systematic doping undertaken by Armstrong. “I think it’s good for him, maybe it gets some weight off his shoulders,” said Schleck.
“But I believe the sad thing about it is that cycling is going to pay the price now, and it’s sad if we have to pay the price for it when we weren’t even professionals 15 years ago,” he added.
Armstrong’s admissions could carry legal repercussions. The US Department of Justice is close to making a decision on whether to add the government’s name to a complaint lodged in 2010 against Armstrong by former fellow US Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis.
The Postal Service, a federal agency, paid $30 million in public money to sponsor Armstrong’s team and may now seek it back.