This Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 photo provided by Harpo Studios Inc., shows talk-show host Oprah Winfrey interviewing cyclist Lance Armstrong during taping for the show "Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive" in Austin, Texas. / AP PHOTO/COURTESY OF HARPO STUDIOS, INC., GEORGE BURNS
CHICAGO, IL-- He did it. He finally admitted it. Lance Armstrong doped.
© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
He was light on the details and didn't name names. He mused that he might not have been caught if not for his comeback in 2009. And he was certain his "fate was sealed" when longtime friend, training partner and trusted lieutenant George Hincapie, who was along for the ride on all seven of Armstrong's Tour de France wins, was forced to give him up to anti-doping authorities.
But right from the start and more than another two dozen times during the first of a two-part interview Thursday night with Oprah Winfrey, the disgraced former cycling champion acknowledged what he had lied about repeatedly for years, and what had been one of the worst-kept secrets for the better part of a week: He was the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme on a U.S. Postal Service team that swept him to the top of the podium at the Tour de France time after time.
"At the time it did not feel wrong?" Winfrey asked.
"No," Armstrong replied. "Scary."
"Did you feel bad about it?" she pressed him.
"No," he said. "Even scarier."
"Did you feel in any way that you were cheating?"
"No," Armstrong paused. "Scariest."
"I went and looked up the definition of cheat," he added a moment later. "And the definition is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field."
Whether his televised confession will help or hurt Armstrong's bruised reputation and his already-tenuous defense in at least two pending lawsuits, and possibly a third, remains to be seen. Either way, a story that seemed too good to be true - cancer survivor returns to win one of sport's most grueling events seven times in a row - was revealed to be just that.
On Tuesday, Winfrey told "CBS This Morning" that Armstrong "did not come clean in the manner" that she had expected.
"It was surprising to me. I would say that for myself, my team, all of us in the room, we were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers ... but I think the most important questions and the answers that people around the world have been waiting to hear were answered, and certainly answered -- I can only say I was satisfied by the answers."
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