CHICAGO — Lance Armstrong finally cracked.
Not 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 sponsorship deals that evaporated over the course of two days, or having 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.
‘‘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. He blinked, looked away from Winfrey, and with his lip trembling, struggled to compose himself.
‘‘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.
‘‘The line of drugs?’’ Winfrey asked.
‘‘Yes. And I said, ‘You've got a deal,’ ’’ he replied. ‘‘And I never would have betrayed that with her.’’
Investigators familiar with Armstrong’s case, however, said that he lied about when he stopped doping.
“You did not do a blood transfusion in 2009?” Winfrey asked.
“No, 2009 and 2010 absolutely not,” Armstrong said.
Investigators said Armstrong’s blood values at the 2009 race showed clear blood manipulation consistent with two transfusions.
If Armstrong lied about the 2009 race, it could be to protect himself criminally, investigators said. Federal authorities looking to prosecute criminal cases will look back at the “last overt act” in which the crime was committed, they explained. If Armstrong doped in 2005 but not 2009, the statute of limitations may have expired on potential criminal activity.