Lance Armstrong said in his interview broadcast Thursday night with Oprah Winfrey that he did not do anything to try to influence the U.S. Atty.’s office in Los Angeles to drop its grand-jury probe of him last February.
“No, none, that’s very difficult to influence,” he said.
Asked if he thought he had achieved victory from the scrutiny of doping allegations when no charges were filed, he said, “I thought I was out of the woods.”
Armstrong told Winfrey he’s convinced he could have avoided this scenario if he had remained retired after the seventh Tour win. He said his comeback “didn’t sit well with” former teammate Floyd Landis.
“That period began this,” he said.
Regret coming back? Winfrey asked.
“I do,” he said. “We wouldn’t be sitting here if I hadn’t come back.”
Asked if he always feared this day of reckoning would come, Armstrong said, “Well, I just assumed the stories would continue for a long time.”
The federal investigation and the USADA probe changed that theory.
Armstrong said he wishes he had responded to USADA’s inquiry instead of fighting it.
He said his reaction was, “Coming in on my territory, I’m going to fight back.
“I’d do anything to go back to that day. I wouldn’t fight. I wouldn’t sue 'em. I’d listen. I’d say, ‘Guys, let me call my family, my sponsors, my organization, tell them what I’ve got to do, and I’ll be right there. I wish I had done that.”
Posted at 7:19 PDT
Oprah Winfrey noted the recent statement of USADA chief Travis Tygart that six samples taken from Lance Armstrong after the 1999 Tour de France prologue came back in 2005 as positive for EPO, which wasn’t tested for in 1999.
“I didn’t fail a test,” Armstrong said. “I passed those others with nothing in my system.”
Armstrong argued he also did not give a donation to the International Cycling Union to get them to turn their attention away from another suspect result.
“It’s impossible to make anyone believe it,” but “it was not in exchange,” Armstrong said. “They called and said they didn’t have a lot of money. I had money, was retired. I said, ‘Sure.’”
Armstrong, however, admitted his people wrongly backdated a prescription for banned cortisone after he tested positive for it in 1999. He wound up suing his former masseuse, Emma O’Reilly, for telling the story of the backdated prescription to a reporter.