Source: Armstrong tells Oprah he doped

Source: Armstrong tells Oprah he doped

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Global cancer advocate Lance Armstrong, chairman and founder at LIVESTRONG, speaks about "Survivorship: changing the way the world fights cancer", during the World Cancer Congress on August 29, 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Held every two years, the Congress represents a unique and ideal platform for the international cancer control community to meet, discuss, share, learn and connect in order to find solutions to reduce the impact of cancer on communities around the world. AFP PHOTO / ROGERIO BARBOSA (Photo credit should read ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/GettyImages)

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by JIM VERTUNO, AP Sports Writer

NWCN.com

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 11:43 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 15 at 10:22 AM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A person familiar with the situation says Lance Armstrong confessed to Oprah Winfrey during an interview Monday that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the interview is to be broadcast Thursday on Winfrey's 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. USADA chief executive Travis Tygart labeled the doping regimen allegedly carried out by the U.S. Postal Service team that Armstrong once led, "The most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

After a federal investigation of the cyclist was dropped without charges being brought last year, USADA stepped in with an investigation of its own. The agency deposed 11 former teammates and accused Armstrong of masterminding a complex and brazen drug program that included steroids, blood boosters and a range of other performance-enhancers.

Soon afterward, Winfrey tweeted: "Just wrapped with @lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!"

A group of about 10 close friends and advisers to Armstrong left a downtown Austin hotel about three hours after they arrived Monday afternoon.

Earlier Monday, Armstrong stopped at his Livestrong Foundation and delivered a heartfelt apology to staff members, some of whom broke down in tears. A person with knowledge of that meeting says Armstrong said he was sorry for letting the staff down and putting Livestrong at risk but he did not make a direct confession to the group about using banned drugs.

Armstrong was stripped of seven Tour de France titles last year for running what officials described as a sophisticated doping operation.

The interview with Winfrey was Armstrong's first public response to the USADA report. Armstrong was not expected to provide a detailed account about his involvement, nor address in depth many of the specific allegations in the more than 1,000-page USADA report.

In a text to the AP on Saturday, Armstrong 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."

After a federal investigation of the cyclist was dropped without charges being brought last year, USADA stepped in with an investigation of its own. The agency deposed 11 former teammates and accused Armstrong of masterminding a complex and brazen drug program that included steroids, blood boosters and a range of other performance-enhancers.

Once all the information was out and his reputation shattered, Armstrong defiantly tweeted a picture of himself on a couch at home with all seven of the yellow leader's jerseys on display in frames behind him. But the preponderance of evidence in the USADA report and pending legal challenges on several fronts apparently forced him to change tactics after more a decade of denials. He still faces legal problems.

Former teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, has filed a federal whistle-blower lawsuit that accused Armstrong of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service. The Justice Department has yet to decide whether it will join the suit as a plaintiff.

The London-based Sunday Times also is suing Armstrong to recover about $500,000 it paid him to settle a libel lawsuit. On Sunday, the newspaper took out a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune, offering Winfrey suggestions for what questions to ask Armstrong. Dallas-based SCA Promotions, which tried to deny Armstrong a promised bonus for a Tour de France win, has threatened to bring yet another lawsuit seeking to recover more than $7.5 million an arbitration panel awarded the cyclist in that dispute.

The lawsuit most likely to be influenced by a confession might be the Sunday Times case. Potential perjury charges stemming from Armstrong's sworn testimony in the 2005 arbitration fight would not apply because of the statute of limitations. Armstrong was not deposed during the federal investigation that was closed last year.

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 Livestrong, which 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.

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