Lance Armstrong has told Oprah Winfrey that the loss of his personal sponsors in the wake of the USADA report cost him $75 million in future income. In the second part of the interview, much of the theme was on the cost of his years of lies and denials, be it financial or otherwise.
Long-time sponsors Nike, Oakley, Trek and Anheuser-Busch all jumped ship in October last year and finally, over two separate steps he lost his association with the cancer charity he founded in 1997, Livestrong.
"I've certainly lost all future income," he admitted. "You could look at the day and a half where people left. I don't like thinking about it. But that was a... I don't know. That was a $75 million day."
Armstrong said that he "assumed" that he would lose sponsors with the story "getting out of control". He stepped down as chairman of Livestrong first but remained on the board of directors. He later resigned from that position as well, effective November 4, 2012.
"That was the most humbling moment. To get that call," Armstrong explained. "Two parts. Step down as chairman but stay on the board. Stay involved. That wasn't enough. That wasn't enough for the people, for our supporters. Then a couple of weeks later the next call came and we need you to step aside.
"The foundation is like my sixth child. To make that decision to step aside," he continued. "That was big." Armstrong told Winfrey that while he wasn't "forced out" or "told to leave" he was "aware of the pressure" on the charity.
"It was the best thing for the organisation but it hurt like hell... That was the lowest."
A donation to USADA?
Television network CBS recently aired allegations on the 60 Minute Sports program that Armstrong's representatives offered nearly $250,000 donation to USADA in 2004. The Agency's CEO Travis Tygart told the program that "It was a clear conflict of interest for USADA... We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer."
Speaking with Winfrey, Armstrong denied that such a donation was ever made.
"No. That's not true," he said. "That is not true."
Armstrong questioned why the donation didn't make it in to the 1000 page dossier released last August.
"I had no knowledge of that. I've asked around. I said ‘Has anybody...?'"
"That's a lot of money. I would know."
Rallying against reality
The image of Armstrong laying in a darkened room, brightened by seven Tour de France yellow jerseys, soon after being stripped of his titles by USADA and the decision ratified by the UCI, was evidence of the defiant human nature of the 41-year-old. 'Back in Austin and just layin' around...' he tweeted.
"That was more defiance," Armstrong told Winfrey. "You what's scary is that I actually thought it was a good idea."
In the interview, Armstrong questioned the severity of his penalty, once again talking of his longing to remain a "competitor", even if he's not riding his bike.
"I made my bed but if there was ever a window..." he said.
Armstrong described his lifetime bad as a "death penalty," in comparison to others named in the USADA report who received six month bans.
"I deserve to be punished I'm not sure I deserve the death penalty."
As he did in the first half of the interview, Armstrong again denied having used performance-enhancing drugs during his comeback years from 2009. He explained the role that his ex-wife Kristin played in his decision to return to the peloton.
"The thing about her and my doping and this comeback. She was the one person I asked if I could do that," he said.
"She said to me you can do it. Under one condition that you never cross that line again."
It followed a query from Winfrey over whether there was any one person who ever knew the truth about Armstrong's career. He said there was, but that is where the probing stopped. He did however concede that Kristin certainly had some knowledge of his anti-doping violations, saying she was on a "need to know" basis.
"She wasn't that curious," he said. "Perhaps she didn't want to know."
The needle and the damage done...
There was more talk of repentance from Armstrong in the second half of the interview and he included Sunday Times journalist David Walsh in that. Armstrong, as he frequently mentioned throughout the interview is a cancer survivor, and it's that doggedness that is likely to remain.
"That is a guy who felt he was invincible," he explained.
"That guy's still there. I'm not going to lie to you and the public. I'm in therapy...," he admitted.
Armstrong said that the catalyst for him to open up about his past doings was the knowledge that his 13-year-old son Luke, had been defending him in the wake of the USADA report. Recollection of the discussion that he had with his children brought Armstrong close to tears.
"He's been remarkably calm and mature about this," he said of his oldest son.
"They're going to see this, and I told him if any kid says anything to him, tell him my dad said sorry."
Armstrong's mother, Linda, has been by side through much of his career and he admitted that the revelations in recent times has left her "a wreck."
Armstrong told Winfrey that he has a long road ahead.
"I will spend as long as I have to making amends," he said. "Knowing full well I won't get a lot of those people back," with potentially millions of his former supporters now disillusioned about the Armstrong they once believed in.
"Do you feel disgraced?" Winfrey asked.
"Of course," Armstrong conceded. "But I also feel humbled. I feel ashamed. This is ugly stuff."
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As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.
Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.
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