The final half of Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah aired Friday. While the first night focused more on the history of Armstrong's abuse of performance-enhancing drugs, tonight focused largely on the impact coming clean has had on Amstrong, his family (including his son Luke who spent years defending his father in person and online), his friends and his organization Livestrong — from which he has now severed all ties.
Armstrong talked about losing his sponsorships: a day he claims cost him $75 million. He also called the day he had to step aside from Livestrong "the most humbling moment."
Armstrong was criticized for sounding emotionless Thursday, and remained so for much of the second part as well. He did, however, choke up when telling Oprah how he came clean to his 13-year-old son Luke, who, he said, had been adamant in defending his father against allegations of doping: "I told Luke, I said, 'don't defend me anymore," Armstrong said, recounting the conversation that had happened just before the taping of the interview.
There's something, though, in the way he says "my dad said he was sorry" that sounds as if he expects a two-hour television special to absolve him of all the wrong he's done.
Oprah asked Armstrong several times if he believes he is now a better person. A question he answered each time in the affirmative, though he added he could make no promises:
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 ... I'm in no position to make promises, I'm gonna 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've got to do. I had it and then things got too big, things got too crazy.
During the interview, Armstrong admit that he'd like to compete again, but cannot. His lifetime ban from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) not only prevents him from competing in another Tour de France, but any sanctioned event such as marathons. Asked about his penalty, Armstrong complained that it was unfair, saying others who'd admit to doping (rather than obstinately lying for years) only received six-month suspensions. He also called USADA chief Travis Tygart a liar, saying he never offered the organization a $250,000 bribe.
Some claims he made in the interview's first part — namely that he stopped using performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions was in 2005 — have come under fire. Investigators have said, flat out, that he was lying and that there is evidence he was using blood transfusions to boost oxygen as recently as 2009.
While Armstrong claimed several times to be "humbled" and "ashamed" by his fall from grace, he also told Oprah the scandal had not changed the way he sees himself. Asked what the moral of the story is, Armstrong said he didn't have a great answer (hint: not doping and then lying about it for years is a good start). Fortunately, Oprah was there to help: "I hope the moral to the story is what Kristen [Armstrong's ex-wife] told you in 2009, 'the truth will set you free.'"