The fairy tale of a cancer survivor from Austin, Texas, who beat the odds to win the Tour de France a record seven times, has morphed into a parable about telling a lie.
Lance Armstrong has been revealing in his two-part exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey Thursday and Friday night, but critics say he is leaving out important details.
There has been a lot to learn from Armstrong and from those watching him as he starts to tell the truth.
Getting caught is just the beginning.
This is the reason for his confession. After retiring from the Tour in 2005, he made a comeback in 2009.
"We wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't come back," Armstrong told Winfrey.
Cycling colleague Floyd Landis went public in 2010 with his own doping and leveled allegations at Armstrong as well. This eventually led to investigations against Armstrong.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which tests Olympic athletes for performance enhancing drugs, praised his televised interview as a "small step in the right direction."
But it still would like a full confession of all of his doping activities, under oath at the USADA. The agency had started an investigation against Armstrong, who sued to try to stop it.
He told Winfrey he wishes he'd cooperated freely back then, but now that he has a second invitation to do so, he is approaching it with a caveat.
Armstrong said he would participate if the agency forms a broad "truth and reconciliation commission," involving doping across the sport of cycling.
Blaming yourself is not the same as telling it all.
"I deserve this," were his comments on his fall from grace to public disgrace. In the interview he disparaged his own character for hours, calling himself "deeply flawed," "ruthless" and "arrogant."
"I was a bully," he told Winfrey of how he treated others who might expose his doping and lies.
Armstrong admitted to personal guilt but was careful not to implicate others.
Things escalated to the level they did "because of my actions and because of my words, and because of my attitude and my defiance," he said.
But he also blamed the culture of cycling during the time he doped, saying the practice was widespread and just as much "part of the job" as water bottles and tire pumps.
There were also allegations he still denies, like coercing teammates to dope as well.
People will believe a lie.
Armstrong cheated for years, and no one in the sport of cycling stopped him. He lied under oath about his use of performance enhancing drugs. "Hundreds of millions," as Armstrong has put it, believed him, adored him, and many wore yellow bracelets, because he inspired them.
The fairy tale image was "one big lie that I repeated a lot of times," Armstrong said. It became impossible to live up to and it fell apart.
He publicly derided those trying to expose him, ruining some of their lives. "We sued so many people," Armstrong told Winfrey -- people who were telling the truth and lost to him in court in spite of it.
It was about controlling the narrative of his heroic story. "If I didn't like what somebody said ... I tried to control that and said that's a lie; they're liars," Armstrong said.
"Now the story is so bad and so toxic, and a lot of it is true," he said.
Be nice to people on your way up.