Ex-teammate: Lance Armstrong confession "good first step"
(CBS News) Nearly 14 years after first winning the Tour de France, the race that turned him into a superstar, Lance Armstrong finally admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.
After years of defiantly denying doping charges, Armstrong admitted that not only did he use performance enhancing drugs throughout his cycling career, he considered it part of his "job," part of his regimen, like pumping tires in his bike or filling up his water bottle.
"I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times," Armstrong told Oprah Winfrey in an interview that aired Thursday night.
Jonathan Vaughters, a former Tour de France teammate of Lance Armstrong who also admitted using performance-enhancing drugs and testified against Armstrong before the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said on "CBS This Morning," the confession is "a good first step."
Armstrong told Winfrey he began doping in the mid-'90s, but insisted he stopped in 2005 before his comeback four years later.
Armstrong told the world last night just how he cheated his way to seven Tour de France titles. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he laid out his cocktail of choice - blood transfusions, testosterone, and the blood booster EPO.
Winfrey asked, "It did not even feel wrong?"
Armstrong replied, "No ... scary."
Vaughters said the confession is positive, "but he's got to go to USADA, the world's anti-doping agency, and really get into the details. You know, the reason for that is that in order for those details or what, you know, help develop new tests and improve anti-doping for the next generation of professional riders."
Asked if Armstrong was telling the truth, Vaughters said, "You know, it's hard to say. There's a lot of stories intertwined in there. I think that sometimes it takes a while, and it takes being asked those questions a few times and getting more and more comfortable with just letting it out. You know, when you guard a secret that long, it takes a while to let it go."
For Vaughters' full interview, watch the video in the player above.
Armstrong said he kept up the lie for more than a decade because he was caught up in his own legacy - the American hero, family man, and cancer survivor. "All the fault and all of the blame falls on me," he said. "But behind that picture and behind that story it was momentum and whether it's fans of the media, it just gets going and I lost myself in all that."
Despite his hunger for victory, Armstrong denied ever threatening teammates who didn't want to dope. "I'm certainly not the most believable guy in the world I understand," Armstrong said. "But I didn't do that."
But he admitted wanting things his way. He said he was a "bully in the sense that I tried to control the narrative and if I didn't like what somebody said and for whatever reasons in my own head, whether I viewed that as someone being disloyal, I tried to control that and said in a lie 'They're liars.'"
Vaughters, asked if Armstrong's statement that he never threatened teammates is truthful, said, "He was an immensely intimidating person, and he was held by such high regard and such an icon in the sport. And when someone's in that position, if they look cross-eyed at you, you know, you're worried about it."
Armstrong said he regretted not coming clean last year when the United States Anti-Doping Agency gave him the chance, telling Winfrey, "I'd do anything. I'd do anything to go back to that day."
After the interview, the agency released a statement saying, "Tonight Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit ... but if he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities."
The 41-year-old says he is only now beginning to understand the scope of his lies. He said, "I'll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologize to people for the rest of my life."
Armstrong repeatedly refused to name names or implicate anyone else in the scandal. He told Winfrey that he thought he could get away with cheating after the federal government dropped its criminal investigation into him last year. But that's when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency launched its own investigation, following it up with one thousand pages of evidence against Armstrong.
These days, Vaughters said, the cycling world has changed its view of cheating. "If you go to like, you know, the guys who are racing now and if you ask them, you know, if they think doping is wrong, their answer's going to be absolutely 'yes.' It's not even a second thought for them. But that's taken a lot of time and a lot of effort to get professional cycling to shift that mentality that way."
Watch CBS News Chip Reid's report, featuring highlights from Armstrong's confession in the video below.
Also, on "CBS This Morning," CBS News' Scott Pelley discussed Armstrong's confession and the how, in 2011, after a six-month investigation, "60 Minutes" broke the story of Armstrong's doping.
Pelley interviewed Tyler Hamilton, one of his former teammates. Hamilton revealed how he and Armstrong used banned substances, including EPO and testosterone. He also said that Armstrong had failed a drug test in 2001.
After the "60 Minutes" story aired, Armstrong and his advisers complained bitterly, demanding an on-air apology.
Pelley described Armstrong's interview with Winfrey as "not a tell-all, but a tell-a-lot." "One thing that struck me was the way he described doping as air in our tires and water in our bottles. These substances, in many cases, are controlled substances. This is not air and water we're talking about.
"One thing that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency was talking about is how were these drugs obtained, how were they distributed, how were they carried across state lines and international borders. USADA describes it as drug trafficking, and one of the things he didn't talk about very much was how elaborate and complex this all was."
For more with Pelley, watch his full interview in the video below.
The lengths to which Armstrong intimidated people is also likely more severe than was described in the interview. Pelley said, "It's amazing the lengths he would go to according to some of the witnesses who were testifying against him over time, particularly testifying against him before that federal grand jury. Levi Leipheimer (one of Armstrong's fellow riders) wife said he got a text that said 'run, don't walk.' Tyler Hamilton ... told us that Armstrong came to find him in a bar after the '60 Minutes' interview, put his hand on his chest, looked him in the eye and said, 'We're going to make your life a living hell.' So as Armstrong admitted to Oprah last night, when he was backed into a corner, he came out fighting and a lot of people felt that heat."
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