After more than a decade of denying doping claims, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has admitted to Oprah that he used performance-enhancing drugs to help him win seven Tour de France titles, sources revealed Monday [Jan. 14] evening.
A person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press that Armstrong confessed to Oprah Winfrey during an interview taping with the Queen of Talk, which is slated to air on Thursday on her network.
Armstrong was stripped of all seven Tour titles last year in the wake of a voluminous U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that portrayed him as a ruthless competitor, willing to go to any lengths to win the prestigious race.
A group of about 10 close friends and advisers to Armstrong left a downtown Austin hotel about three hours after they arrived Monday afternoon for the 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 (at)lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!' She was scheduled to appear on 'CBS This Morning' on Tuesday to discuss the interview.
'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’.
Armstrong stopped at the 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.
Many of his sponsors dropped Armstrong after the damning USADA report — at the cost of tens of millions of dollars — and soon after, he left the board of the Livestrong cancer-fighting charity he founded in 1997. Armstrong is still said to be worth about $100 million.
Livestrong might be one reason Armstrong has decided to come forward with an apology and limited confession.
The charity supports cancer patients and still faces an image problem because of its association with Armstrong.
He also may be hoping a confession would allow him to return to competition in the elite triathlon or running events he participated in after his cycling career.
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 information Armstrong provides and his level of cooperation.
VIDEO Sports Writer Speaks With Armstrong Before Oprah Interview