AUSTIN, Texas — Lance Armstrong confessed to Oprah Winfrey during an interview Monday that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the interview is to be broadcast Thursday on Winfrey’s network.
Armstrong was stripped of all seven Tour titles last year after a voluminous U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that portrayed him as a ruthless competitor, willing to go to any lengths to win the 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.”
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.
A group of about 10 close friends and advisers to Armstrong left a downtown Austin hotel about three hours after they arrived Monday for the taping. Among them were attorneys Tim Herman and Sean Breen, along with Bill Stapleton, Armstrong’s longtime agent, manager and business partner. All declined comment.
Soon afterward, Winfrey tweeted: “Just wrapped with @lancearmstrong More than 2½ hours. He came READY!” She was scheduled to appear on CBS This Morning today to discuss the interview.
Armstrong stopped at the Livestrong Foundation, which he founded, on his way to the interview Monday and said “I’m sorry” to staff members. A person with knowledge of that session said Armstrong choked up and several employees cried.
The person said Armstrong told the staff 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 the room of about 100 staff members for about 20 minutes. He told them how much the foundation means to him and that he considers the people who work there to be like 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.