Oprah Winfrey is confirming that Lance Armstrong came clean to her about his use of performance-enhancing drugs during their 2 1/2 hour interview Monday. She says the cyclist was "forthcoming" as she asked him in detail about doping allegations that followed him throughout his seven Tour de France victories.
Speaking on "CBS This Morning," Winfrey said she had not planned to address Armstrong's confession before the interview aired on her OWN network but, "by the time I left Austin and landed in Chicago, you all had already confirmed it."
Winfrey interviewed Armstrong at a hotel in downtown Austin. The session was to be broadcast on Thursday but Winfrey said it will now run in two parts over two nights because there is so much material.
Armstrong won every Tour from 1999 to 2005, but each of those titles was stripped last year as the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a massive report built around the testimony of former teammates. USADA accused Armstrong of masterminding a long-running and sophisticated doping operation on his teams.
The 41-year-old Armstrong vehemently denied the charges for years, and fiercely attacked his critics. But after losing his titles and being abandoned by corporate sponsors, he has changed course.
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.
Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey was "emotional at times," according to a person familiar with the situation, and it followed an apology to the staff at the Livestrong Foundation that left some of them in tears.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity and would neither confirm nor deny that the disgraced cyclist confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs during the taping, which is scheduled to be broadcast Thursday night and is supposed to remain confidential until then.
A group of about 10 close friends and advisers to Armstrong left a downtown Austin hotel about three hours after they arrived Monday afternoon for the interview. Among them were Armstrong attorneys Tim Herman and Sean Breen, along with Bill Stapleton, Armstrong's longtime agent, manager and business partner. All declined comment entering and exiting the session.
Soon afterward, Winfrey tweeted: "Just wrapped with (at)lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!"
Armstrong stopped at the Livestrong Foundation, which he founded, on his way to the interview and said, "I'm sorry" to staff members, some of whom broke down in tears. A person with knowledge of that session said Armstrong 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 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.
Armstrong spoke to a room full of about 100 staff members for about 20 minutes, expressing regret for everything the controversy has put them through, the person said. He told them how much the foundation means to him and that he considers the people who work there to be like members of his family. None of the people in the room challenged Armstrong over his long denials of doping.
Winfrey and her crew had earlier said they would film Monday's session at Armstrong's home. As a result, local and international news crews were encamped near the cyclist's Spanish-style villa before dawn.
Armstrong still managed to slip away for a run despite the crowds outside his home. He returned by cutting through a neighbor's yard and hopping a fence.
During a jog on Sunday, Armstrong talked to the AP for a few minutes saying, "I'm calm, I'm at ease and ready to speak candidly." He declined to go into specifics.
Armstrong lost the Tour titles he won from 1999 to 2005 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."
Yet Armstrong looked like just another runner getting in his roadwork when he talked to the AP, wearing a red jersey and black shorts, sunglasses and a white baseball cap pulled down to his eyes. Leaning into a reporter's car on the shoulder of a busy Austin road, he seemed unfazed by the attention and the news crews that made stops at his home. He cracked a few jokes about all the reporters vying for his attention, then added, "but now I want to finish my run," and took off down the road.
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.
A person familiar with the situation says Lance Armstrong has completed his interview with Oprah Winfrey and that it was "emotional at times."
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity and would neither confirm nor deny that the disgraced cyclist confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs during the taping, scheduled to be broadcast Thursday night.
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.
A person with knowledge of the situation says Lance Armstrong has apologized to the staff at his Livestrong cancer foundation. He did so before heading to an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the discussion was private.
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.
Armstrong 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.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)