But right from the start and more than two dozen times during the first of a two-part interview last night with Oprah Winfrey on her OWN network, 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 US. Postal Service team that swept him to the top of the podium at the Tour de France time after time.
"I'm a flawed character," he said.
Did it feel wrong?
"No," Armstrong replied. "Scary."
"Did you feel bad about it?" Winfrey 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."
Wearing a blue blazer and open-neck shirt, Armstrong was direct and matter-of-fact, neither pained nor defensive. He looked straight ahead. There were no tears and very few laughs.
He dodged few questions and refused to implicate anyone else, even as he said it was humanly impossible to win seven straight Tours without doping. "I'm not comfortable talking about other people," Armstrong said. "I don't want to accuse anybody."