CHICAGO Lance Armstrong finally cracked.
Not the way anti-doping authorities hoped or as disillusioned fans wanted, while expressing deep remorse or regrets, though there was plenty of that in Friday night’s second part of Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
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.
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“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. It came just past the midpoint of an hourlong broadcast, a day after the disgraced cycling champion admitted 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, taped Monday, but Armstrong seemed to lose his composure when Winfrey zeroed in on the drama involving his personal life.
“What did you say?” Winfrey asked.
“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.
“And 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 Armstrong out 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.
” he replied. “And I never would have betrayed that with her.”