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Report: Lance Armstrong confessed doping to Oprah

January 14, 2013|By Lance Pugmire
  • Lance Armstrong has reportedly confessed to Oprah Winfrey during an interview that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Lance Armstrong has reportedly confessed to Oprah Winfrey during an interview… (Peter Morrison / Associated…)

Stripped Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong reportedly confessed to Oprah Winfrey on Monday during a taped interview that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the famed race seven times.

A source who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the Winfrey interview is set to air Thursday on the Oprah Winfrey Network made the revelation.

An Armstrong spokesman and attorney did not immediately respond to messages left by The Times on  Monday, and a Winfrey Network spokeswoman said, "We are not confirming specific details regarding the interview at this time."

Armstrong, 41, was stripped of the Tour titles following a 1,000-plus-pages report in October released by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, in which Chief Executive Travis Tygart said the cyclist led “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” Armstrong was banned from competition for life as a result of the report.

Following a federal investigation of the cyclist that was dropped without charges being brought last year, USADA’s report included depositions from 11 former teammates.

The report painted cancer-survivor Armstrong as a brazen, merciless cheater who supplemented testosterone use with banned blood-doping practices.

By doing so, he fueled his success while encouraging teammates for the U.S. Postal Service team to do the same and bullying those who questioned the merits of his accomplishments.

Armstrong remained steadfast in his denials of use for years, but after the USADA report, several sponsors, including Nike, split with him, and the New York Times reported earlier this month that Armstrong was contemplating a confession that could possibly allow him to return to competition in marathons and triathlons.

The Associated Press reported from a downtown Austin, Texas, hotel near Armstrong’s home that a group of about 10 close friends and advisors to Armstrong left the hotel about three hours after they arrived Monday afternoon for the Winfrey taping.

Among them were Armstrong attorneys Tim Herman and Sean Breen, along with Bill Stapleton, Armstrong's longtime agent, manager and business partner. All declined comment entering and exiting the session.

Soon afterward, Winfrey tweeted: “Just wrapped with @lancearmstrong. More than 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!” Winfrey is scheduled to appear on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday to discuss the interview.

In a text to the AP on Saturday, Armstrong said: “I told her to go wherever she wants and I'll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That's all I can say.”

The AP reported Armstrong stopped at the cancer-fighting Livestrong Foundation, which he founded, on his way to the interview and said, “I'm sorry” to staff members, some of whom broke down in tears. A person with knowledge of that session said Armstrong choked up and several employees cried during the session.

The person also said Armstrong apologized for letting the staff down and putting Livestrong at risk but he did not make a direct confession to using banned drugs. He said he would try to restore the foundation's reputation and urged the group to continue fighting for the charity's mission of helping cancer patients and their families.

Armstrong spoke to a room full of about 100 staff members for about 20 minutes, expressing regret for everything the controversy has put them through, the person said. He told them how much the foundation means to him and that he considers the people who work there to be like members of his family.

None of the people in the room challenged Armstrong over his long denials of doping, the person said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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