Lance Armstrong confesses to doping in Oprah interview

This article initially appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

Adrian Lowe writes.

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has reportedly admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France.

A source ‘‘familiar with the situation’’ told the Associated Press that Armstrong made the explosive revelation in a two-and-a-half-hour interview with Oprah Winfrey, taped on Monday, US time, and to be aired on Thursday (Friday Australian time).

American television network CBS reported that Armstrong had also ‘‘indicated a willingness to testify’’ against other people who were involved in illegal doping.

CBS also reported that Armstrong was considering returning part of the millions of dollars that his team received in sponsorship from the US postal service.

It comes after earlier reports that Armstrong "choked up" in an apology to staff at his cancer foundation ahead of his mooted tell-all interview.

Armstrong, 41, apologised to Livestrong foundation staff for "letting them down," the organisation has confirmed.

Quoting "a person with direct knowledge of the meeting", AP reported that several employees cried during Armstrong's comments, which were made during a meeting.

It was also reported that Armstrong, who did not make a direct confession about using banned drugs, urged staff to fight to continue helping cancer patients and their families.

Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France who was stripped of the titles because of doping charges, created Livestrong in 1997 after his battle with testicular cancer. He is now battling to rebuild his reputation, according to USA Today.

The newspaper reported that in the interview with Winfrey, Armstrong would acknowledge using performance-enhancing drugs.

After the interview, Winfrey tweeted: "He came READY!".

The interview is scheduled to air on Winfrey's own television channel on Thursday, US time (Friday Australian time).

Two unidentified people with knowledge of the situation reportedly told the newspaper that Armstrong would not give any detail on specific cases and events.

In August, the US Anti-Doping Agency banned Armstrong from competition for life for "a career fuelled, start to finish, by doping". He lost his seven Tour de France titles after refusing to take the USADA case to arbitration.

The agency's report found that Armstrong forced teammates to take performance-enhancing drugs or be fired from his team, and himself transfused blood and used testosterone and erythropoietin, also known as EPO.

It comes about one month after British newspaper The Sunday Times started legal action against the cyclist to recoup money it paid him to settle a legal case.

In 2004, the paper published claims from a book that Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs but after Armstrong sued, the paper, owned by Rupert Murdoch, paid him about £300,000 [$456,000 Australian].

The newspaper is seeking about £1 million [$1.5 million Australian] for a return of the settlement payout, as well as interest and its costs in defending the case. It says Armstrong’s proceedings were ‘‘baseless and fraudulent’’.

During a weekend jog, Armstrong told AP: "I'm calm, I'm at ease and ready to speak candidly."

He also told AP via text message that: "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 USADA case led to a wholesale review of Cycling Australia's operations in light of admissions from two key local administrators that they had doped during their own cycling careers.

Image credit: Reuters.

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