Armstrong admits journalist deserves apology19/01/2013 - 08:30:33
The second segment of Oprah Winfrey's interview with Lance Armstrong was never going to contain the same level of fireworks but it did produce a hint of the anticipated waterworks.
During almost an hour of conversation that covered the disgraced former bike rider's family and the financial implications of his fall from grace, Armstrong described the moment he told his 13-year-old son to stop defending him, recalled the 24-hour period during which he estimated he lost $75m of endorsements and, most controversially of all, denied he had offered a $250k donation to the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
And for the first time, he publicly acknowledged that Sunday Times sportswriter David Walsh deserved an apology - even if he did so begrudgingly.
In keeping with the general theme, this was a decidedly odd moment arriving just after he listed off the names of those deserving of his regret - including three-time Tour de France winner and strong critic Greg LeMond.
Oprah asked if he owed David Walsh an apology to which Armstrong smiled: "That's a good question" and after some deliberation "I'd apologise to David".
It was a slower-paced interview that the night before but he probably raised the blood pressure of Travis Tygart, the USADA chief, who recently insisted that Armstrong had offered that $250,000 donation.
"No, that is not true," Armstrong told Oprah.
Tygart led the year-long USADA investigation into Armstrong which led to the stripping of his seven Tour de France wins. Armstrong and his legal team dismissed their inquiry as a “witch hunt” and tried to have it declared “unconstitutional” in a Texas court.
Armstrong's denial forced USADA to issue a brief statement that said they "stand by the facts in (their) reasoned decision".
Critics of Oprah were disappointed that she did not bring into the conversation Armstrong;'s former team manager during those Tour victories, Johan Bruyneel. The Belgian who is thought to be on the verge of co-operating with police in his home nation.
And when a discussion about his ex-wife Kristin led Oprah to ask if he had told anyone the whole truth, his answer to the affirmative was not greeted with a follow-up question.
Instead, the moment that drew the sympathy of most observers was his description of the effect his downfall had on his mother - who he described as a "wreck" - and his young family.
"When this all started, I saw my son defending me and saying that's not true … That's when I knew I had to tell him. He'd never asked me. He trusted me."
It was the harsh words of other kids online that forced Armstrong to reveal all to his own children over the Christmas period.
"They didn't say much. They just accepted it. I told Luke, I said 'don't defend me any more'. He's been remarkably calm and mature about this. I told him, 'If some kid says something, don't defend me just say hey, my dad said he's sorry'."
The day the sponsors left him and took their millions away was a tough day, he said but nowhere near as bad as the low point which was severing all ties with the Livestrong foundation in November.
"That was the most humbling moment."
He admitted that he wants the chance to compete again in endurance events such as marathons, insisting that he deserved a chance to have his lifetime ban rescinded.
He also spoke of his regret about the infamous tweeted image of himself "just laying around" beneath his framed yellow jerseys after he was stripped of those titles.
"That was just more defiance. What's scary is I thought it was a good idea at the time."
He also said he was in therapy and needed to be so "consistently".
"The biggest hope and intention is the well-being of my children. The older kids need to not be living with this in their lives. That isn't fair for me to do that to them … The younger kids will learn it. This conversation (with Oprah) will live forever… That dumb tweet with the yellow jerseys will live forever so I've got to get that right for them.
"This isn't the worst part of my life. You cannot compare this to an advanced diagnosis (of cancer), 50/50 odds (of survival). That sets the bar. It's close but I'm an optimist and I like to look forward.
"I don't know what's out there. I'm getting comfortable with that.
"I can't lose my way again. Only I can control that. I'm in no positions to make promises … I had it and then things got too big, things got too crazy. It's an epic challenge.
"The ultimate crime is the betrayal of these people that supported me and believed in me."
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