Lance Armstrong has admitted a "ruthless desire to win" drove him to use performance-boosting substances in all seven of his Tour de France victories.
After years of furiously denying claims of doping, the disgraced cyclist opened up to Oprah Winfrey in an exclusive uncut interview, airing over two days.
The 41-year-old remained calm as he gave a frank description of his career as a drugs cheat in the first instalment of a two-part interview with Winfrey, which aired in Australia via Oprah.com and the Discovery Channel at 1pm (AEDT) today.
The science of doping
Armstrong said he did not feel bad about his drug use at the time because he did not regard it as cheating.
"My cocktail consisted of EPO… blood transfusions and testosterone," he told Winfrey.
"[The testosterone] I almost justified because of my history with testicular cancer."
He also admitted to using cortisone and human growth hormones.
Armstrong won every Tour from 1999 to 2005, but each of those titles was stripped last year as the US Anti-Doping Agency released a massive report built around the testimony of former teammates.
Despite using banned substances in each Tour and throughout his career, Armstrong was not afraid of getting caught because drug testing was not sophisticated at the time.
"Drug testing has changed, it's evolved. In the old days they tested at the races. They didn't come to your home," he said.
"And there was no testing out of competition."
Armstrong admitted using drugs in front of his team but denied a former teammate's claims he paid a lab to get rid of evidence after testing positive to EPO.
"There was no positive test, paying off the lab, secret meeting with the lab director," he said.
Still, he admitted claims made against him by a former team masseuse were true.
Emma O'Reilly was sued by Armstrong after claiming she had witnessed him plotting to cover up his cortisone use in 1999.
He asked a doctor to backdate a prescription for the drug and said it was to treat "saddle sores".
"[I was] the guy who expected to get whatever he wanted and control every outcome," he said.
Describing how widespread drug use was among elite cyclists, Armstrong said it as necessary as putting air in your tyres.
But he denied USADA's claim that his doping program was the most sophisticated that all of sport had ever seen.
"I didn't have access to anything that no one else did," the 41-year-old said.
"I made my decisions, they were my mistakes and I'm sitting here today to say I'm sorry. The culture was what it was."
He told Winfrey he regretted denying claims made against him when he first learned of the USADA probe into his drug use.
"I'd do anything to go back to that day. Because I wouldn't fight. I wouldn't sue them. I'd listen," he said.
He wished he had admitted it to his family, sponsors and foundation before being honest with USADA.
"I'm a flawed character," he told Winfrey.
"All the blame falls on me.
"While I've lived through this process… I know the truth, the truth is out there and it isn’t what I said (previously)," he said.
"This story was so perfect for so long."