Cyclist Lance Armstrong is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in Austin, Texas in theis handout photo courtesy of Harpo Studios. REUTERS/Harpo Studios, Inc/George Burns/Handout
Lance Armstrong finally has confronted his alleged use of
performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, though
he "did not come clean in the manner that I expected," talk
show host Oprah Winfrey said a day after interviewing the
Armstrong, 41, has always vehemently denied using the drugs
and had never tested positive in a doping test. But the
evidence against him has been overwhelming and pressure has
been building on him to admit that he cheated.
USA Today reported yesterday that Armstrong had confessed to
the doping in the interview with Winfrey, which will air on
Thursday and Friday on her OWN Network, and other media say
they have confirmed the report.
In an appearance on CBS' "This Morning" show on Tuesday
(local time), Winfrey did not explicitly say that Armstrong
had confessed during their interview, though she said the
media had confirmed it.
"I think the most important questions and answers that people
around the world have been waiting to hear were answered,"
Winfrey said of the interview, which occurred at a hotel in
Austin, Texas, and lasted more than two hours.
"We were mesmerised and riveted by some of his answers," said
Winfrey, who described Armstrong's demeanour as thoughtful
and serious and at times emotional.
When asked why the American cyclist, who had his seven Tour
de France titles stripped last year, agreed to the interview,
Winfrey said: "I think he was just ready." She added that she
would allow others to decide if he had shown contrition.
A cancer survivor who went on to become the greatest cyclist
the world has seen, Armstrong's fall from grace has been as
swift and spectacular as his rise through the French Alps.
While Armstrong was long dogged by accusations he cheated his
way to the top, his rapid slide was ultimately triggered by
an October report from the U.S. anti-doping body USADA.
USADA exposed Armstrong as a liar and a cheat, describing him
as the ringmaster of the "most sophisticated,
professionalised and successful doping program that sport has
ever seen," involving anabolic steroids, human growth
hormone, blood transfusions and other doping.
Media reports of the interview with Winfrey have not
identified which drugs he reportedly admitted using.
Armstrong's attorney and his spokesman did not immediately
respond to requests for comment on the reports on Monday.
Armstrong, however, apologised on Monday to the staff of the
cancer foundation he started over difficulties they may have
experienced because of the doping controversy.
"It was a very sincere and heartfelt expression of regret
over any stress that they've suffered over the course of the
last few years as a result of the media attention,"
Livestrong Foundation spokeswoman Katherine McLane said on
CBS has reported that Armstrong indicated he might be willing
to testify against others involved in illegal doping and was
in talks about repaying part of the taxpayer money he earned
during his career.
Former Armstrong teammates at his U.S. Postal and Discovery
Channel outfits, where he won his seven successive Tour de
France titles from 1999 to 2005, testified against him as
well as admitting to their own wrongdoing.
The mountain of evidence was overwhelming, and when Armstrong
decided not to fight the charges against him, his Tour de
France victories were quickly nullified. He was banned from
cycling for life.
His sponsors, who had remained loyal to him, began deserting
him and he stood down as chairman of Livestrong. Legal issues
began to mount.
His former teammate Floyd Landis, a self-confessed cheat,
filed a lawsuit against him for defrauding the U.S.
government, while the London-based Sunday Times is suing
Armstrong to recover about $500,000 it paid him to settle a
Armstrong could also be forced to pay back amounts including
$7.5 million to SCA Promotions, a Dallas-based company that
paid him a bonus for his Tour de France wins.
Throughout it all, Armstrong remained silent, unrepentant and
seemingly unconcerned as the cycling world was left reeling
by the revelations. He agreed last week to the interview with