Oprah confirms Armstrong 'came clean' on doping

by Robert MacPherson, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 16 2013 09:25 AM | Updated as of Jan 16 2013 10:00 PM

Cyclist Lance Armstrong is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in Austin, Texas, in this January 14, 2012 handout photo courtesy of Harpo Studios. REUTERS/Harpo Studios, Inc/George Burns/Handout 

WASHINGTON - Lance Armstrong "came clean" to Oprah Winfrey on his use of banned drugs, the talk show host said on Tuesday, as anticipation built for the telecast of her interview with the shamed cyclist.

Winfrey told "CBS This Morning" that her OWN cable network will broadcast the two-and-a-half-hour interview unedited over two nights from Thursday. Originally, a shorter broadcast was planned for one night only.

"I didn't get all the questions asked, but I think the most important questions and the answers that people around the world have been waiting to hear were answered," Winfrey said.

"I can only say I was satisfied by the answers."

"I would say he did not come clean in the manner that I expected," she added. "It was surprising to me. I would say that for myself, my team, all of us in the room, we were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers."

But even before Armstrong's mea culpa had been seen, critics were questioning his choice of forum, saying an interview with Winfrey lacked the rigor of testimony under oath before anti-doping authorities.

"WADA has read with interest media reports suggesting a television 'confession' made by Lance Armstrong," said David Howman, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

"While WADA encourages all athletes to come clean about any doping activities they have been involved with or know about, these details must be passed on to the relevant anti-doping authorities."

The Swiss-based International Cycling Union also called for Armstrong to give evidence to its ongoing investigation into widespread doping in the sport it governs.

The interview is Armstrong's first since he was stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles after the US Anti-Doping Agency, in a 1,000-page report, put him at the heart of the greatest doping scandal in the annals of sport.

For a decade he had vigorously denied using banned substances to win his way into the history books after battling cancer.

Prior to sitting down with Winfrey in his hometown of Austin, Texas, on Monday, Armstrong, 41, went to the offices of Livestrong, the cancer charity he founded in 1997, and apologized in person to its staff.

"Lance came to the Livestrong Foundation's headquarters (and) offered a sincere and heartfelt apology for the stress they've endured because of him," Livestrong spokeswoman Rae Bazzarre told AFP.

Speaking from Chicago, Winfrey -- when asked if Armstrong had "come clean" to her -- said she and Armstrong had agreed at the outset not to talk about the content of the interview.

But a source with knowledge of the interview confirmed to AFP that the Texan admitted to Winfrey using banned substances in his career.

Winfrey, speaking to breakfast news program "CBS This Morning," said she was mystified as to how the content had leaked.

The 58-year-old star said she asked 112 questions in "the biggest interview I've ever done" and grilled Armstrong so intensely that, during a break at the 100-minute mark, Armstrong asked if their conversation might lighten up.

With a world-class scoop on her hands, Winfrey flew home to Chicago with the video tape in her handbag for fear it might be pirated or leaked if beamed back to the editing room via satellite.

Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong's former team-mate Frankie Andreu, has long claimed that she heard Armstrong admit to doping at a 1996 appointment with doctors treating his testicular cancer.

On Tuesday she told ESPN that she didn't know if she'd be able to watch the interview.

A TV confession now, Betsy Andreu said, could only be a first step if Armstrong is to repair his reputation in a meaningful way.

"If he really wants a second chance then he's going to have to tell the truth of everything and stop protecting people, especially the people who helped him get away with it," she said.

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