January 15, 2013

Source: Armstrong tells Oprah he doped

The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas —  Lance Armstrong has finally come clean.

click image to enlarge

In this 2009 file photo, Lance Armstrong speaks during the opening session of the Livestrong Global Cancer Summit in Dublin, Ireland. Lance Armstrong stopped at his Livestrong Foundation before heading to an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Monday and delivered an emotional apology to staff members, some of whom broke down in tears, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press.

AP

Armstrong confessed to doping during an interview with Oprah Winfrey taped Monday, just a couple of hours after a wrenching apology to staff at the Livestrong charity he founded and has now been forced to surrender.

The day ended with 2½ hours of questions from Winfrey at a downtown Austin hotel, where she said the world's most famous cyclist was "forthcoming" as she asked him in detail about doping allegations that followed him throughout his seven Tour de France victories.

Speaking on "CBS This Morning," Winfrey said Tuesday she had not planned to address Armstrong's confession before the interview aired on her OWN network but, "by the time I left Austin and landed in Chicago, you all had already confirmed it."

"So I'm sitting here now because it's already been confirmed," she added.

The session was to be broadcast on Thursday but Winfrey said it will now run in two parts over two nights because there is so much material.

Winfrey would not characterize whether Armstrong seemed contrite but said he seemed ready for the interview. "I would say that he met the moment," she said.

"I don't think 'emotional' begins to describe the intensity or the difficulty he experienced in talking about some of these things."

The confession was a stunning reversal for a proud athlete and celebrity who sought lavish praise in the court of public opinion and used courtrooms to punish his critics.

For more than a decade, Armstrong dared anybody who challenged his version of events to prove it. Finally, he told the tale himself after promising over the weekend to answer Winfrey's questions "directly, honestly and candidly."

The cyclist was stripped of his Tour titles, lost most of his endorsements and was forced to leave Livestrong last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a damning, 1,000-page report that accused him of masterminding a long-running doping scheme.

The International Cycling Union, or UCI, issued a statement on Tuesday saying it was aware of the reports that Armstrong had confessed to Winfrey. The governing body for the sport urged Armstrong to tell his story to an independent commission it has set up to examine claims it covered up suspicious samples from the cyclist, accepted financial donations from him and helped him avoid detection in doping tests.

Armstrong started Monday with a visit to the headquarters of Livestrong, the charity he founded in 1997 and turned into a global force on the strength of his athletic dominance and personal story of surviving testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain.

About 100 Livestrong staff members gathered in a conference room as Armstrong told them "I'm sorry." He choked up during a 20-minute talk, expressing regret for the long-running controversy tied to performance-enhancers had caused, but stopped short of admitting he used them.

Before he was done, several members were in tears when he urged them to continue the charity's mission, helping cancer patients and their families.

"Heartfelt and sincere," is how Livestrong spokeswoman Katherine McLane described his speech.

Armstrong later huddled with almost a dozen people before stepping into a room set up at a downtown Austin hotel for the interview with Winfrey. The group included close friends and lawyers. They exchanged handshakes and smiles, but declined comment.

Winfrey has promoted her interview, one of the biggest for OWN since she launched the network in 2011, as a "no-holds barred" session, and after the voluminous USADA report — which included testimony from 11 former teammates — she said she went into the session with 112 questions ready to go. Not all of them were asked, she said, but many were.

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