Speaking in his interview with Oprah Winfrey, the disgraced former cyclist revealed he began doping in the "mid-1990s" and apologised for the price that the sport is now paying.
Armstrong denied that the US Postal Service team's doping programme was the most sophisticated that sport has ever seen - as claimed in the United States Anti-Doping Agency's "Reasoned Decision" - but admitted that the story of his cheating was "so bad and so toxic".
He also conceded that he had been a bully, but was adamant that he had never verbally told his team-mates to dope or face being kicked off his team.
The 41-year-old at first appeared nervous, but soon settled into the interview and answered with authority and confidence.
He said he viewed using performance-enhancing drugs as like having "air in our tyres or water in our bottles". However, he repeatedly insisted that he would not mention names of other individuals who had been involved in doping.
He was also adamant that a $100,000 donation he made to cycling's governing body, the International Cycling Union, in 2002 was not in exchange for a cover-up of a positive test.
Armstrong admitted he was "reckless" to become involved with the controversial doctor Michele Ferrari, but said he still views the now-banned Italian as "a good man".
Despite accepting full responsibility for his actions, he mitigated them by claiming he was just another member of a doped generation of riders and that doping was the "level playing field".
However, he insisted that he had raced clean when he made his comeback in 2009 and 2010.
The Texan said that had he not made that comeback, he was confident he would have got away with doping, but knew the game was up when long-time friend George Hincapie testified against him.
He was less forthcoming regarding claims made by Betsy Andreu, the wife of former team-mate Frankie Andreu, that he admitted doping to doctors in 1996 - opting not to directly answer Winfrey's question.
Armstrong hinted he now would be keen to co-operate with anti-doping officials and back a truth and reconciliation process.