AUSTIN, Texas (CBSNewYork/AP) — Lance Armstrong admitted to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, CBS News has confirmed.
Multiple reports said the cyclist would make limited confession to Winfrey about his role as the head of a long-running scheme to dominate the Tour de France with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.
Winfrey was set to talk about the interview on CBS This Morning, beginning at 7 a.m.
Stripped last year of his seven Tour de France titles because of doping charges, Armstrong addressed the staff Monday and said, “I’m sorry.” The person said the disgraced cyclist 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 the group about 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.
After the meeting, Armstrong, his legal team and close advisers gathered at a downtown Austin hotel for the interview.
Winfrey and her crew had earlier said they would film the interview, to be broadcast Thursday, at his home, but the location apparently changed to a hotel. Local and international news crews staked out positions in front of the cyclist’s Spanish-style villa before dawn, hoping to catch a glimpse of Winfrey or Armstrong.
Armstrong lost all seven Tour titles following 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.”
The interview with Winfrey will be Armstrong’s first public response to the USADA report. Armstrong is 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.
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 than 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.
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