Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah Winfrey during his televised interview on OWN that in the course of defending himself from charges that he’d used banned substances in his cycling, he became a “bully.” And surprisingly, he attributed it to his battle with testicular cancer that changed his attitude.
“I was always a fighter,” Armstrong said in the first of the two-part interview that aired Thursday night. “Before my diagnosis, I was a competitor, but not a fierce competitor. Then I said I will do anything I need to do to survive. Then I brought that ruthless, win-at-all-costs attitude into cycling.”
Winfrey brought up some of the people from Armstrong’s past who had made allegations against the cycling star, people whom Armstrong had sued in retaliation for their claims against him. Among them was Betsy Andreu, wife of Armstrong’s former teammate Frankie Andreu, one of the first people to go public with allegations that Armstrong had once admitted to using banned substances.
Though Armstrong admitted that he had spoken to Andreu by phone for 40 minutes to apologize, he declined to discuss the content of the phone call. He did dispute the truthfulness of Andreu’s charges against him.
“If they said 10 things and eight of them are right and two of them are false, then I have every right to go after them,” Armstrong said, which was met with a bit of incredulity from Oprah.
Immediately after the interview ended, Andreu told Anderson Cooper on CNN: “I’m really disappointed. ‘You owed it to me, Lance. And you dropped the ball.’”
At issue was a moment in an Indiana University hospital room after his cancer diagnosis, when Armstrong rattled off a list of performance-enhancing substances he had used.
When Winfrey asked Armstrong about the moment, he declined to answer the question.
Another accuser was Armstrong’s former masseuse, Emma O’Reilly, who also testified about Armstrong’s doping habits.
“She’s one of the people who got run over and got bullied,” Armstrong said.
“You sued her,” Winfrey continued.
“To be honest, Oprah, we sued so many people... I’m sure we did,” Armstrong replied. “I’ve reached out and tried to make amends on my own.”