Armstrong's mask slips as he reveals toll on family

Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:54am IST

Lance Armstrong, founder of the LIVESTRONG foundation, takes part in a special session regarding cancer in the developing world during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York September 22, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files

Lance Armstrong, founder of the LIVESTRONG foundation, takes part in a special session regarding cancer in the developing world during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York September 22, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson/Files

Related Topics

REUTERS - Lance Armstrong showed barely the slightest flicker of emotion when he confessed to cheating his way to a record seven Tour de France titles, but the American finally cracked when he recalled telling his children the truth about his doping-fueled career.

In the second segment of his televised interview with U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey aired on Friday, Armstrong clinically sifted through the rubble of a career destroyed by the exposure of his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

A day earlier he had admitted to what the sporting world had long suspected, that he had cheated his way to the pinnacle of professional cycling by blood doping and using banned drugs such as erythropoietin and human growth hormone.

The 41-year-old equated the lifetime ban handed down by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to the "death penalty".

Armstrong remained stoic as he recounted how his sponsors fled, and along with them tens of millions of dollars in income disappeared in a single day.

"I don't like thinking about it, but that was a $75 million day. Gone, gone and probably never coming back," he said.

Armstrong appeared saddened when he recalled the day he had to stand aside from Livestrong, the cancer foundation he set up, but it was when questions turned to his family that Winfrey finally struck a nerve.

The Texan fought back tears and paused to gather his crumbling composure as he talked about admitting to his 13-year-old son Luke that the stories about his father were true.

"When this all really started, I saw my son defending me, and saying, 'That's not true,'" said Armstrong.

"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'd trusted me.

"I told Luke, I said, 'Don't defend me anymore, don't.'

"I said, 'If anyone says anything to you do not defend me, just say, 'hey my dad said he was sorry.'"

Painted as a relentless, ruthless athletic machine, the moment of raw emotion was one millions of viewers had tuned in to see, offering a rare glimpse of Armstrong's human side.

Having described himself as a man who is always in control, Armstrong struggled to contain his emotions again when Winfrey asked about the impact the doping scandal had had on his mother.

"She's a wreck," he said. "(But) she's a tough lady and gotten through every other tough moment in her life.

"It took seeing her to really understand that this has taken a toll on her life.

"I'm deeply sorry for what I did, I can say that thousands of times and that may never be enough to come back."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Korean Boat Tragedy

Family members of a missing passenger onboard the South Korean ferry Sewol which capsized on Wednesday, look at the sea as they wait for news from a rescue team, at a port in Jindo April 19, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Sunken Korea ferry relatives give DNA swabs to help identify dead

Relatives of some of the more than 200 children missing in a sunken South Korean ferry offered DNA swabs on Saturday to help identify the dead as a rescue turned into a mission to recover the vessel and the bodies of those on board.  Full Article 


Everest Tragedy

Everest Tragedy

Death toll climbs in worst tragedy on Everest  Full Article 

Missing Plane

Missing Plane

Current underwater search for Malaysia plane could end within a week  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Putin welcomes new NATO head, says better ties with West possible  Full Article 

Japan Military

Japan Military

Japan expands army footprint for first time in 40 years, risks angering China  Full Article 

Journalists Released

Journalists Released

Kidnapped French journalists found on Turkey's Syrian border   Full Article 

Papal Message

Papal Message

Pope Good Friday service underscores plight of the suffering.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage