Armstrong 'confesses' during Oprah interview

Armstrong 'confesses' during Oprah interview

Armstrong 'confesses' during Oprah interview

Updated 16 January 2013, 8:00 AEDT

An unconfirmed US media report says Lance Armstrong has confessed to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career.

An unconfirmed US media report says Lance Armstrong has confessed to talk show host Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career.

Armstrong recorded the extensive interview this morning, just hours after apologising to staff at his Livestrong Cancer Foundation over his fall from grace.

It was Armstrong's first interview since being stripped of his seven Tour de France crowns.

Winfrey tweeted:

Just wrapped with @lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours . He came READY!

News outlet Associated Press reported that a "source familiar with the situation" says Armstrong confessed to doping.

Winfrey's OWN network would not confirm or deny the report.

"We are not confirming any specific details regarding the interview at this time," a spokesman said.

The interview will go to air on Friday morning.

Winfrey confirmed she will appear on CBS television this evening to talk about it.

Armstrong has always denied using drugs and has remained silent since allegations were levelled against him by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in October.

"He's appeared on the shows many times and he's recognised that as the medium in which to tell all.

Cycling commentator Phil Liggett

Cycling commentator Phil Liggett believes the Winfrey interview will likely have yielded some kind of doping admission.

"He must have given this an awful lot of thought and he must have felt the net was finally closing in on him, and how was he going to come out reasonably well," Liggett said.

"I believe he knows Oprah.

"He's appeared on the shows many times and he's recognised that as the medium in which to tell all.

"That's what I feel is going to happen."

The reports have seen South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill say Armstrong should repay the money he was paid by the State Government to appear in the Tour Down Under.

A Livestrong spokeswoman says Armstrong earlier held private talks with staff in which he pledged to help restore the foundation's reputation.

"Lance came to the Livestrong Foundation's headquarters today for a private conversation with our staff and offered a sincere and heartfelt apology for the stress they've endured because of him," Livestrong spokeswoman Rae Bazzarre said.

She added that Armstrong - a cancer survivor who founded the charity in 1997 - urged Livestrong staffers "to keep up their great work fighting for people affected by cancer."

Liggett says he is glad that Armstrong apologised.

"I'm rather pleased that Lance has finally come out and he's chosen, first of all, to go to his foundation because his heart was really in that foundation," Liggett said.

"Once the story broke back in October, he resigned as the chairman of Livestrong.

"But those people on the foundation have been so hard working for his cause and I'm glad he's chosen to go there first."

Journalists staked out Armstrong's home in Austin earlier on Monday ahead of his interview with Winfrey.

Reporters, photographers and TV crews took up positions across the street from Armstrong's opulent Austin home, which is surrounded by a 2.4-metre stone wall.

Legal ramifications

Any confession by Armstrong could have legal or financial ramifications, particularly among big-name corporate sponsors such as Nike that had loyally stood by him even as doping allegations grew.

Since the International Cycling Union effectively erased him from the record books, Britain's The Sunday Times has sued Armstrong for more than 1 million pounds ($1.52 million) over a libel payment made to him in 2006.

It had paid Armstrong 300,000 pounds 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.

On Sunday, the Sunday Times took out an ad in the Chicago Tribune newspaper setting out 10 questions that Winfrey, whose OWN media network is based in the Midwestern metropolis, should ask Armstrong.

"Is it your intention to return the prize money you earned from September 1998 to July 2010?" read one question.

"Did you sue the Sunday Times to shut us up?" went another.

A Texas insurance company has also threatened legal action to recoup millions of dollars in bonuses it paid him for multiple Tour victories.

Armstrong's years of dominance in the sport's greatest race raised cycling's profile in the US to new heights.

It also gave the Texan - diagnosed in 1996 with late-stage testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs - a unique platform to promote cancer awareness and research.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation has raised almost $US500 million since its creation in 1997.

In the wake of the allegations, several top sponsors dumped Armstrong and on November 14 the Livestrong Foundation dropped his name from the non-profit organisation he founded.

ABC/wires