Lance Armstrong cried and admitted he was "sick" and "narcissistic" in the second round of his confessional TV interview with Oprah Winfrey, but avoided fleshing out his earlier, limited confession to having cheated his way to the pinnacle of world cycling.
Armstrong's eyes filled with tears when relating the impact of the doping scandal on his family, satisfying those viewers who yearned to see the granite facade crack. But questions remained over allegations of bribery and cover-up, and whether he doped in his 2009-10 comeback.
The second, hour-long interview, which aired on Friday night on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) completed a dramatic confession whose first segment aired a night earlier, delivering a huge scoop to the struggling network.
Armstrong, 41, repeated his contrition, addressing the millions of supporters who had believed his years of denials about using performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids and EPO. "I'd say I understand your anger, your sense of betrayal. You supported me forever through all of this ... and I lied to you. And I'm sorry. I will spend – and I'm committed to spending – as long as I have to to make amends."
Asked if he owed an apology to David Walsh, the Sunday Times journalist who doggedly pursued the story despite intimidation and threats from Armstrong, he briefly hesitated, before saying: "I'd apologise to David."
The Texan said his remorse was genuine, not an attempt to deflect damage. "Everybody who gets caught is bummed out that they got caught. Do I have remorse? Absolutely. Will it grow? Absolutely. For me these are the first steps. These are my actions. I'm paying the price but I deserve it."
In the first interview on Thursday, Winfrey extracted a frank confession from Amstrong, who admitted to having doped before his 1995 battle with cancer and during his sevens straight Tour de France wins between 1999 and 2005. Critics said she failed to demand sufficient detail and expressed scepticism over Armstrong's continued denials about allegedly paying the International Cycling Union (UCI) and a Swiss laboratory to bury positive dope tests. Many also doubted his claim to have competed cleanly during a 2009-10 comeback.
Winfrey did not press those issues in the second interview segment and instead focused on Armstrong's relationship with his family, his sponsors and his inner turmoil.
He described his decision to sever ties with his cancer foundation Livestrong last November, after a Usada report exposed his cheating and made his position untenable, as humbling. "The story was getting out of control, it was my worst nightmare ... the foundation is like my sixth child.. and to make that decision, and to step aside, that was big. It was the best thing for the organisation but it hurt like hell."
Showed a clip of a defiant Armstrong denying doping during a 2005 deposition, he winced. "It's sick. I don't like that guy. That is a guy who felt invincible ... that guy is still there, I'm not going to lie to you and the public and say oh I'm in therapy, he's gone."
He admitted to being narcissistic and said if one of his children behaved like he did in the tape he would be "apoplectic".
Armstrong said he wished to compete again, if not in cycling then running, such as the Chicago marathon or Austin 10K. Winfrey appeared incredulous he wished to be allowed to compete again. He said: "This may not be the most popular answer right now ... but I think I deserve it."
Asked if he had got what he deserved, in terms of comeuppance, he replied: "I deserve to be punished. I'm not sure I deserve the death penalty," referring to his complete ban from sporting events.
Armstrong said an infamous tweet, showing him lying at home amid his framed Tour de France yellow jerseys just after being banned, was an act of defiance. "And you know what's scary I actually thought it was a good idea at the time."
He said the destruction of his legend had changed how he viewed himself. "This is heavy, this is messy." He said he was undergoing therapy. "I've had a messy life, this is going to be a long process ... There is not going to be one tectonic shift here."
Armstrong said he made a comeback in 2009 after promising his then-wife, Kristin, to compete cleanly. "I gave her my word and I stuck to it." He said he expected to win the Tour de France that year because improved drug testing had cleaned up the sport and levelled the playing field. He came third.
Armstrong's flinty demeanour cracked when he recounted how his 13-year-old son Luke had defended him against the taunts of other children. Groping for words, he said: "It almost goes ... he can't. That's when I knew I had to tell him. And he'd never asked me. He'd never said, Dad is this true. He'd trusted me."
He confessed to his son and twin daughters, aged 11. "I said, 'listen there's been a lot of questions about your Dad's career ... I want you to know that it's true'. They didn't say much. Didn't say, but wait, Dad. They just accepted it."
The face raw, the voice quavering, he told Winfrey: "I said, Luke, don't defend me anymore." His son, he said, responded well. "He just said, I love you, you're my Dad, this won't change that. Thank god he's more like Kris than he is like me." His downfall had made his mother a "wreck".
Armstrong said he "selfishly" hoped the TV confessional would prompt the anti-doping agency Usada to lift its ban but his main motive was his children, including the two youngest, toddlers. "They have no idea [about the scandal] but they will learn it. This conversation will live forever. That dumb tweet with the yellow jerseys will live forever."
In a rare investigative foray, Winfrey asked about a claim that Armstrong tried to pay off Usada with a donation. "No. That's not true."
Losing sponsors was financially devastating, he said. "I've lost all future income. You could look at that day and a half when people (sponsors) left. That was a $75m day. Gone. Gone. And probably never coming back."
Asked was he a better human being because of his ruin, he said: "Without a doubt.. the biggest challenge of the rest of my life is not slip up again." Winfrey ended the interview by saying the truth "sets you free". Armstrong paused. "Yep."
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