Amid his stripped titles, lifetime competition ban and scores of people who view him as a fraud, Armstrong said, "Now this story is so bad and so toxic."
He told Winfrey he didn’t "invent the culture" of doping in cycling, "but I didn’t try to stop the culture, and I’m sorry for that."
He disputed the contention by U.S. Anti-Doping chief Travis Tygart that his was the most sophisticated doping system in sport history.
"It was definitely professional, definitely smart, but very conservative, risk-adverse. To say that it was bigger than the East German Olympic machine of the '70s and 80’s. … "
Armstrong said he wasn’t talking to Winfrey to accuse others of wrongdoing.
"I made my decisions," he said. "I’m here to acknowledge that and say sorry for that."
He said no one on his team was "forced or pressured" to dope as well, but accepted that others could have taken the cue from him to use drugs to keep up.
Armstrong said he viewed his doping as “simple,” using “things that were oxygen-boosting drugs that were incredibly beneficial for endurance sports. And that’s all you needed. My only cocktail was EPO, transfusions and testosterone, which I almost justified with my history of testicular cancer."
Posted at 6:20 PST
Armstrong said “yes” to questions about use of the banned energy-boosting substance EPO, blood-doping practices, transfusions, testosterone, HGH and cortisone.
He said he started using in the “EPO generation” of the mid-1990s.
Armstrong was asked why he so “brazenly denied” allegations of the use for years by Winfrey, which he called “the most logical” and “best” question.
“This is too late probably for most people,” he said about his aggressive reactions to people who alleged he had doped. “And that’s my fault. I view this situation as one big lie I’ve repeated a lot of times.”
Asked about the culture of drug use in cycling at the time he was competing, Armstrong said, "I don’t want to accuse anybody else. I made my decisions… I’m sitting here today to acknowledge that. The culture was what it was."
He also said that he had little fear about being caught because there wasn't much out-of-competition testing.
Posted at 5:50 PST
Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey is about to get underway, the discussion expected to open with Winfrey reminding the disgraced cycling champion that she is not bound by conditions and that the interview is “an open field.”
After years of firm denials, Armstrong is expected to make some confessions to Winfrey about his use of performance-enhancing drugs and banned methods while winning seven Tour de France titles.
The 41-year-old, who was stripped of the Tour titles and slapped with a lifetime competition ban last year, was scorched in a 1,000-plus-page report released by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in October.
That report included statements from 11 former Armstrong teammates about the cyclist’s use of testosterone, energy boosting EPO and other banned methods, with some saying they were pressured to break rules as Armstrong did.
While Armstrong avoided a dirty drug test during the Tours, his teammates and others revealed the sophisticated steps he took to time his doping and hide from testers, relying on the expertise of a doctor to help him beat the system.
Since the report, Armstrong has lost every major sponsor who had supported him and has parted with the cancer-fighting charity Livestrong he helped create.
He may face legal repercussions from his statements to Winfrey, including a civil claim and a whistleblower lawsuit against him filed by former teammate Floyd Landis.