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Lance Armstrong: 'I don't feel like a failure' in wake of doping scandal

The disgraced cyclist opened up about his life in the years since his 2013 admission that he used blood doping to help him win seven Tour de France titles.
/ Source: TODAY

Lance Armstrong called the last six years "terrible" and bristled at being called a "fraud" in his first U.S. television interview since having his seven Tour de France titles stripped after publicly admitting to blood doping.

The disgraced cycling legend spoke with CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin on TODAY Thursday about what his life has been like since the damaging admission in a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey that he cheated during his record-setting stretch of Tour de France victories.

"The last six years in a lot of ways has really sucked,'' he said. "It's been terrible."

Armstrong, 47, was banned for life from competitive cycling in 2012 after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency called him the mastermind of "the most sophisticated, professionalized, and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

"I don't know if it's fraud - you can call it whatever you wanna call it,'' Armstrong said. "It doesn't matter, right? I mean, it's fraud, betrayal, feeling complicit, all of these things that we know people felt.

"That's on me. I'll spend the rest of my life trying to make that right."

Armstrong admitted to Winfrey that he used blood doping to win cycling titles but denied being the ringleader who forced teammates to also participate in blood doping and paid off cycling's governing bodies to cover his cheating.

He faced a raft of lawsuits from former sponsors looking to recoup their money and teammates who claimed he ruined their livelihoods when they exposed his cheating.

He ultimately feels that his confession to Winfrey was not effective.

"No, I don't think it worked,'' he said. "I think it absolutely did not work. For half of the room, it wasn't enough. And then for the other half of the room, it was way too much."

He also believes that the work of his nonprofit Livestrong Foundation, which raised millions in the fight against cancer, made the backlash greater against him than other athletes. Armstrong famously beat testicular cancer and returned to win the Tour de France seven times.

"I do think there's a double standard,'' he said. "But I'm okay with it."

Armstrong maintains that he only engaged in blood doping because it was the only way to win in a sport where cheating was rampant.

"What I would rather do is go back and win seven in a row against everybody else that's drinking water and eating bread,'' he said. "That's what I would want. And I believe that that would happen."

He is now focused on building his media brand, which includes hosting two podcasts and starting his own investment company. Armstrong also enjoys spending time with his fiancee, Anna Hansen, with whom he has two children, as well as being a dad to his three children from his first marriage.

Sorkin asked Armstrong if he has been humbled by his fall from grace.

"It's funny,'' he said. "I get both sides of it. I get people that say, 'He hasn't apologized enough,' and then I get a lot of people that say, 'Dude, stop apologizing.'''

Armstrong is determined to move forward with his life after the scandal.

"I don't feel like a failure,'' he said. "And I've never felt like a failure since then."