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Lance Armstrong admits to lying for years about doping (+video)

Lance Armstrong was direct, matter of fact, and unemotional in his confession about drug use during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.  Armstrong, a former cycling champion, said he lied repeatedly for years and verbally and legal attacked his accusers.

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In his climb to the top, Armstrong cast aside teammates who questioned his tactics, yet swore he raced clean and tried to silence anyone who said otherwise. Ruthless and rich enough to settle any score, no place seemed beyond his reach — courtrooms, the court of public opinion, even along the roads of his sport's most prestigious race.

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That relentless pursuit was one of the things that Armstrong said he regretted most.

"I deserve this," he said twice.

"It's a major flaw, and it's a guy who expected to get whatever he wanted and to control every outcome. And it's inexcusable. And when I say there are people who will hear this and never forgive me, I understand that. I do. ...

"That defiance, that attitude, that arrogance, you cannot deny it."

Armstrong said he started doping in mid-1990s but didn't when he finished third in his comeback attempt.

Anti-doping officials have said nothing short of a confession under oath — "not talking to a talk-show host," is how World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman put it — could prompt a reconsideration of Armstrong's lifetime ban from sanctioned events.

He's also had discussions with officials at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, whose 1,000-page report in October included testimony from nearly a dozen former teammates and led to stripping Armstrong of his Tour titles. Shortly after, he lost nearly all his endorsements, was forced to walk away from the Livestrong cancer charity he founded in 1997, and just this week was stripped of his bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics.

Armstrong could provide information that might get his ban reduced to eight years. By then, he would be 49. He returned to triathlons, where he began his professional career as a teenager, after retiring from cycling in 2011, and has told people he's desperate to get back.

Initial reaction from anti-doping officials ranged from hostile to cool.

WADA president John Fahey derided Armstrong's defense that he doped to create "a level playing field" as "a convenient way of justifying what he did — a fraud."

"He was wrong, he cheated and there was no excuse for what he did," Fahey said by telephone in Australia.

If Armstrong "was looking for redemption," Fahey added, "he didn't succeed in getting that."

USADA chief Travis Tygart, who pursued the case against Armstrong when others had stopped, said the cyclist's confession was just a start.

"Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit," Tygart said. "His admission that he doped throughout his career is a small step in the right direction. But if he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities."

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