Armstrong: "Not sure I deserve a death penalty"
(Sports Network) - Lance Armstrong apologized to his fans and supporters for the actions that led to the legendary cyclist's lifetime ban from the sport he once dominated during his interview with television mogel Oprah Winfrey, but also stated he believes the punishment he received from the International Cycling Union didn't quite fit his crimes.
Showing more emotion and remorse than Thursday's first segment of his two- part conversation that was broadcast on Winfrey's OWN Network, in which Armstrong finally admitted to blood doping and using prohibited substances such as Erythropoietin (EPO) and human growth hormone all throughout his unprecedented run of seven straight Tour de France titles from 1999-2005, the disgraced former hero also revealed that his advised departure from his Livestrong foundation in November was the worst consequence of his precipitous fall from grace.
Armstrong resigned as chairman of the cancer awareness charity on Oct. 17, then left the organization's board of directors less than three weeks afterward under pressure.
"The foundation is like my sixth child," he said. "And to make that decision and to step aside was -- that was big." That was the lowest [point]. The lowest."
Stoic and matter-of-fact during Thursday's aired portion, Armstrong briefly lost his composure when describing a recent conversation with his 13-year-old son Luke, who had been defending his father against the constant allegations that had been levied against the 41-year-old -- ones that Armstrong ultimately admitted were true.
"I said, 'Listen, there's been a lot of questions about your dad," he recalled. "My career, whether I doped or did not dope. I've always denied that and I've always been ruthless and defiant about that, you guys have seen that, that's probably why you trusted me on it.'
"And uh, I told Luke, I said," muttered Armstrong, who then temporarily paused while nearly coming to tears. "I said, 'Don't defend me anymore. Don't'."
While acknowledging that his wrongdoings and the defiant attitude he routinely displayed towards his critics for years warranted a severe penalty, Armstrong wasn't as contrite when discussing the conditions of his ban, which preclude him from participating in other competitions such as triathlons and marathons in addition to professional cycling.
Armstrong referenced previous cases of those caught doping who received suspensions of only six months while conceding to Winfrey his desire to still compete.
"Not the Tour de France, but there's a lot of other things that I could do but I can't," he said. "With this penalty and with this punishment, which again I made my bed. But if there was ever a window, would I like to run the Chicago Marathon when I'm 50? I would love to do that. And I can't. I can't lie to you, I'd love the opportunity to be able to compete. But that isn't the reason I'm doing this.
"Frankly, this may not be the most popular answer. But I think I deserve it. Maybe not right now, but if you look at the situation, if you look at the culture, you look at the sport, you see the punishments, that's what I told you if I could go back to that time and say, 'OK, you're trading my story for a six-month suspension, that's what people got.
"I deserve to be punished. I'm not sure that I deserve a death penalty."
Armstrong was stripped off all seven Tour de France wins in October following a lengthy and comprehensive investigation of he and his former teams by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Soon afterward, UCI handed down the lifetime ban.
The renowned cancer survivor also spoke further about his comeback to the sport in 2009, where he stated during Thursday's segment that he raced in both that year's and the following Tour de France without doping or using illegal substances. Armstrong said he made a promise to his ex-wife, Kristin, that he would race clean.
"She was the one person that I asked if I could do that ... if I could come back. I figured if I'm going to do this, it was a big decision, I need her blessing. And she said to me: 'You can do it under one condition, that you never cross that line again.' And I said, 'You got a deal.' And I never would have betrayed that with her."
USADA's report concluded that Armstrong's blood levels during the 2009 and 2010 editions of the Tour de France were consistent with those who blood doped.
01/18 23:34:37 ET