January 12, 2013

Armstrong to admit doping in Oprah interview

The Associated Press

 

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Lance Armstrong will appear on Oprah Winfrey's TV show this week and, according to a report, will offer a limited confession and an apology for using performance-enhancing drugs.

AP

AUSTIN, Texas — Lance Armstrong will make a limited confession to doping during his televised interview with Oprah Winfrey next week, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Armstrong, who has long denied doping, will also offer an apology during the interview scheduled to be taped Monday at his homeowner Austin, Texas, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no authorization to speak publicly on the matter.

While not directly saying he would confess or apologize, Armstrong sent a text message to The Associated Press early Saturday that said: "I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I'll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That's all I can say."

The 41-year-old Armstrong, who vehemently denied doping for years, has not spoken publicly about the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report last year that cast him as the leader of a sophisticated and brazen doping program on his U.S. Postal Service teams that included use of steroids, blood boosters and illegal blood transfusions.

The USADA report led to Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and given a lifetime ban from the sport.

Several outlets had reported that Armstrong was considering a confession. The interview will be broadcast Thursday on the Oprah Winfrey Network and oprah.com.

A confession would come at a time when Armstrong is still facing some legal troubles.

Armstrong faces a federal whistle-blower lawsuit filed by former teammate Floyd Landis accusing him of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service, but the U.S. Department of Justice has yet to announce if it will join the case. The British newspaper The Sunday Times is suing Armstrong to recover about $500,000 it paid him to settle a libel lawsuit.

A Dallas-based promotions company has threatened to sue Armstrong to recover more than $7.5 million it paid him as a bonus for winning the Tour de France.

But potential perjury charges stemming from his sworn testimony denying doping in a 2005 arbitration fight over the bonus payments have passed the statute of limitations.

Armstrong lost most of his personal sponsorship - worth tens of millions of dollars - after USADA issued its report and he left the board of the Livestrong cancer-fighting charity he founded in 1997. He is still said to be worth an estimated $100 million.

Livestrong might be one reason to issue an apology or make a confession. The charity supports cancer patients and still faces an image problem because of its association with its famous founder.

Armstrong could also be hoping a confession would allow him to return to competition in elite triathlon or running events, but World Anti-Doping Code rules state his lifetime ban cannot be reduced to less than eight years. WADA and U.S. Anti-Doping officials could agree to reduce the ban further depending on what new information Armstrong provides and his level of cooperation.

Armstrong met with USADA officials recently to explore a "pathway to redemption," according to a report by "60 Minutes Sports" aired Wednesday on Showtime.

 

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