After years of denying allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs in his seven Tour de France wins, cyclist Lance Armstrong confessed to Oprah Winfrey during interviews that aired Thursday and Friday.
CHICAGO — Lance Armstrong said he finally cracked after he saw his son defending him against allegations from anti-doping authorities.
Anti-doping authorities and disillusioned fans may have wanted a different explanation — perhaps one given while expressing deep remorse or regret for his actions. But there was plenty of remorse in the second part of Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey on Friday night.
It wasn't over the $75 million in lost sponsorship deals, nor when Armstrong was forced to walk away from the Livestrong cancer charity he founded and called his "sixth child." It wasn't even about his lifetime ban from competition.
It was another bit of collateral damage that Armstrong said he wasn't prepared to deal with.
"I saw my son defending me and saying, 'That's not true. What you're saying about my dad is not true,'" Armstrong recalled.
"That's when I knew I had to tell him."
Armstrong was near tears at that point, referring to 13-year-old Luke, the oldest of his five children. He blinked, looked away from Winfrey, and with his lip trembling, struggled to compose himself.
It came just past the midpoint of an hourlong broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey network. In the first part, broadcast Thursday, the disgraced cycling champion admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs when he won seven straight Tour de France titles.
Critics said he hadn't been contrite enough in the first half of the interview, which was taped Monday in Austin, but Armstrong seemed to lose his composure when Winfrey zeroed in on the emotional drama involving his personal life.
"What did you say?" Winfrey asked, referring to how Armstrong broke the news to his children.
"I said, 'Listen, there's been a lot of questions about your dad. My career. Whether I doped or did not dope. I've always denied that and I've always been ruthless and defiant about that. You guys have seen that. That's probably why you trusted me on it.' Which makes it even sicker," Armstrong said.
"Uh, I told Luke, I said," and here Armstrong paused for a long time to collect himself, "I said, 'Don't defend me anymore. Don't.'"
"He said OK. He just said, 'Look, I love you. You're my dad. This won't change that."
Winfrey also drew comment from Armstrong on his ex-wife, Kristin, whom he claimed knew just enough about both the doping and lying to ask him to stop. He credited her with making him promise that his comeback in 2009 would be drug-free.
"She said to me, 'You can do it under one condition: That you never cross that line again,'" Armstrong recalled.
"The line of drugs?" Winfrey asked.
"Yes. And I said, 'You've got a deal,'" he replied. "And I never would have betrayed that with her."
Armstrong said in the first part of the interview that he had stayed clean in the comeback, a claim that runs counter to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report. And that wasn't the only portion of the interview likely to rile anti-doping officials.
Winfrey asked Armstrong about an interview in which USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said a representative of the cyclist had offered a donation that the agency turned down.
"Were you trying to pay off USADA?" she asked.
"No, that's not true," he replied, repeating, "That is not true."
Winfrey asked the question three more times, in different forms.
"That is not true," he insisted.
Earlier in the broadcast, Armstrong said the most humbling moment in his doping scandal was being forced to step aside from the Livestrong charity he founded.
"And to make that decision to step aside, it was big," he said. "It was the best thing for the organization, but it hurt like hell.
"That was the most humbling moment. To get that call to step down as chairman and stay on the board. (But) that wasn’t enough. Then a couple of weeks later the next call came, to step aside."
Armstrong has been banned from his sport. When asked if he deserved that, he said: "I deserve to be punished. I don't believe I deserve the death penalty."
After watching a video of himself from 2005, Armstrong said: "That is a guy who felt invincible. Was told he was invincible. He's still there. Does he need to be exiting through this process? Yes. Am I committed to that process? Yes."
"I'm deeply sorry for what I did," Armstrong said. "I can say that thousands of times and it may never be enough."
The Associated Press contributed to this report