RAY SUAREZ: Now: the reaction to Lance Armstrong’s interview and belated confessions.
More than four million people watched last night, and Lance’s comments provoked some strong and immediate feedback about the past behavior of the former cycling star.
The weeklong buzz around one-time cycling king Lance Armstrong came to a head last night in a series of rapid-fire confessions.
OPRAH WINFREY, “Oprah’s Next Chapter”: Yes or no, did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?
LANCE ARMSTRONG, former professional cyclist: Yes.
OPRAH WINFREY: Yes or no, was one of those banned substances EPO?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Yes.
OPRAH WINFREY: Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Yes.
RAY SUAREZ: In the interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong not only admitted to doping, but said cheating was just part of competing.
OPRAH WINFREY: It humanly possible to win the Tour de France without doping seven times in a row?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Not in my opinion.
I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture.
RAY SUAREZ: Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency accused him of masterminding an elaborate doping scheme. But, until now, he had steadfastly and repeatedly denied the allegations.
LANCE ARMSTRONG: We have nothing to hide. We have nothing to run from. I have never taken performance-enhancing drugs.
RAY SUAREZ: Anyone who suggested otherwise was attacked by Armstrong and his allies, as he acknowledged to Winfrey.
LANCE ARMSTRONG: I was a bully in the sense that you just — 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 somebody being disloyal or a friend turning on you or whatever, I tried to control that and said, that’s a lie, they’re liars.
RAY SUAREZ: Reactions were swift in coming. The former deputy director of the Tour de France criticized Armstrong’s argument that, in effect, everybody was doping.
DANIEL BAAL Tour de France: Well, now he confesses. It doesn’t change anything. However, he says that this is about professionalism, that it is part of the job to dope. This is unbelievable, unacceptable, because every job has its own rules. He knowingly broke these rules. And to say this is to once again make a fool of the other cyclists, of his running mates, those who didn’t dope.
RAY SUAREZ: At the same time, the director of Australia’s Tour Down Under said cycling will recover from the damage done by Armstrong.
MIKE TURTUR, Tour Down Under: There’s no doubt about it, it’s a big kick in the guts, isn’t it, for the sport. But I think — my own feeling is that the general public and supporters of the sport who know what’s going on and follow the sport will see the young athletes coming through. I’m sure the fans will appreciate that and respect that, and also support the young athletes.
RAY SUAREZ: Even some who watched the confession in Austin, Tex., Armstrong’s hometown, say they have moved on.
CHARLES BIPPERT, cyclist: I don’t care. He’s not hurting me. He didn’t hurt me by cheating racing. He didn’t cost me anything. Yes, I mean, he’s a fraud, but on a bicycle.
RAY SUAREZ: Part two of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Armstrong airs tonight.