LOS ANGELES, (AFP) — Lance Armstrong plans to admit to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that will be taped on Monday at the disgraced cyclist’s home in Austin, Texas, USA Today reported.
In an article posted on its website on Friday night, USA Today cited “a person with knowledge of the situation” as saying Armstrong plans to admit for the first time to doping throughout his career, but that he probably will not get into great detail about specific cases and events.
The announcement that Armstrong had agreed to an interview, to air on Winfrey’s OWN cable TV network on Thursday, had sparked widespread speculation that he might finally confess to being a drug cheat after years of strenuous denials.
It will be Armstrong’s first interview since he was stripped in October of his seven Tour de France titles after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said he helped orchestrate the most sophisticated doping program in sports history.
Nicole Nichols of Winfrey’s OWN network said on Wednesday “no question is off-limits” in the interview, for which Armstrong will not receive any payment.
Last week, The New York Times reported that Armstrong, 41, was considering publicly admitting that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs in an apparent bid to return to competitive sport in marathons and triathlons.
On her Twitter feed Tuesday, Winfrey said: “Looking forward to this conversation with @lancearmstrong”. Armstrong retweeted that message on his own Twitter account.
Not everyone is convinced that such an interview is the proper venue for Armstrong to address the charges against him. ”Only Lance would get to have his moment of truth, if that’s what it will be, in front of Oprah Winfrey,” said British cyclist David Millar, who served a two-year ban after admitting doping in 2004 and is now a member of the
athletes’ commission for the World Anti-Doping Agency. ”It is not sitting in front of a judge or a disciplinary hearing being properly questioned about the things he has done wrong.”
Any confession by Armstrong could have legal or financial ramifications. Since the International Cycling Union effectively erased him from the sport’s record books, British newspaper The Sunday Times has already sued Armstrong for more than$1.6 million over a libel payment made to him in 2006.
The newspaper paid Armstrong £300,000 to settle a libel case after publishing a story suggesting he may have cheated, and now wants that money plus interest and legal costs repaid.
A Texas insurance company, SCA Promotions, has also threatened legal action to recoup millions of dollars in bonuses that it paid to him for multiple Tour victories.
Armstrong’s years of dominance in the sport’s greatest race raised cycling’s profile in the United States to new heights and gave him a unique platform to promote cancer awareness and research. The Lance Armstrong Foundation has raised almost $500 million since its creation in 1997. But in the aftermath of the allegations, several top sponsors dropped Armstrong and the ultimate embarrassment came on November 14 when his name was dropped from the charity he founded, which now is known as the Livestrong Foundation.