You may meet them on your way down. Lance has. And now the tables have turned.
"This was a guy who used to be my friend, who decimated me," said Betsy Andreu, the wife of one of Armstrong's former teammates, who went public with doping allegations against Armstrong.
Andreu, author Daniel Coyle, journalist David Walsh, whom Armstrong attacked for writing about his doping for over a decade, former teammates and others he has discredited and sued have now gained plausibility.
They are already critiquing his confession and casting doubt on its completeness. Andreu and Coyle have called Armstrong out over his denial of allegations that he coerced teammates to use performance enhancing drugs.
It's hard to regain trust.
Armstrong's lies and bullying rattled his fans, former friends and teammates, even his own children.
"I will spend the rest of my life ... trying to earn back trust and apologize to people," Armstrong told Winfrey.
Sunday Times journalist Walsh believes the cyclist's bullying was worse than his lies and left behind deeper scars.
"He never showed any compassion during his years or any sense that it troubled him to destroy other people," Walsh said.
Armstrong said he had been ruthless because he "expected to get whatever he wanted and to control every outcome."
"There will be people who hear this and never forgive me," he said. "I understand that."
The emotional damage to his children seemed to touch him the most.
Appearing to hold back tears, Armstrong said he confessed to the three oldest children over the recent holiday break. "The older kids need to not be living with this issue in their lives," the athlete said. "It isn't fair."
Speaking specifically about his 13-year-old son, whom he had heard defending him, Armstrong said he told the youth: "Don't defend me anymore."
Hindsight is 20/20.
The former Tour de France icon said he did not think there was anything wrong with what he was doing at the time he did it -- something he today finds "scary." That he didn't feel guilty was in retrospect "even scarier."
That he did not think it was cheating is the "scariest" part. "I viewed it as a level playing field," he said, where most everybody doped.
Armstrong also does not believe he could have won cycling's most prestigious race seven times in a row without performance enhancing drugs. And his success was not synonymous with contentment.
"That wasn't the happiest time of my life," Armstrong said of his championship years. He told Winfrey he felt happier giving her his confession.
But his doping and bullying years also weren't the worst in his life, he said. The time of his cancer diagnosis was worse.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Armstrong would like to compete again but has no interest in returning to the Tour de France. He'd like to be able to run in the Chicago Marathon when he's 50, but the punishment he's been slapped with won't allow it.
"I can't run the Austin 10K," he said. "Anything that is sanctioned" by an official governing body is ruled out.
"This may not be the most popular answer, but I think I deserve it (being allowed to compete), maybe not right now," Armstrong said. A six-month suspension is customary for doping he said, but he received a "death penalty."
Now that he has been caught and has confessed, lawsuits he won could be reviewed, and his victims could come after him, tearing away at his fortune.