He's beaten cancer, won seven Tours, but can Lance Armstrong find redemption on Oprah Winfrey's sofa

Disgraced cyclist bids to win over US public in interview with queen of TV confessions

His reputation is shattered, his sponsors and cancer foundation have fled, he has lost the greatest prizes in sport, and lawsuits circle him like sharks. Now Lance Armstrong is responding in the way only the biggest celebrities seeking redemption can: he's talking to Oprah.

The talk show host has promised a "no-holds-barred" interview, the first by the disgraced cyclist since US anti-doping authorities revealed his key role in what they called the "most sophisticated doping programme that sport has ever seen".

But after months of surly defiance by the man who survived testicular cancer to win the Tour de France seven times, those preparing to watch the interview wonder how much he will reveal and how far Oprah Winfrey will push him.

Her sofa, or Lance's in this case – the interview will take place in his Texas home – has been the stage for some of the biggest attempted rehabilitations in sport and beyond. But Winfrey is known for her cosy rather than confrontational style, drawing tears by the gallon but rarely blood.

She drew criticism after barely challenging Marion Jones when the former sprinter claimed in an interview in 2008 to have had no knowledge of her own doping. The American had just served a six-month prison sentence for her part in the Balco scandal.

Winfrey's warmth and reach have tempted Michael Jackson and the Duchess of York, among others, to reveal perhaps more than they had planned, while her talk show has been both credited and criticised for unleashing a culture of confession that won her millions of fans.

The "Oprah-fication" of American life, as the Wall Street Journal called it, has also been observed beyond the glare of the presenter's studio lights, in the "emoting" of public figures and even presidents.

But Winfrey has struggled to maintain her influence since she quit her eponymous show in 2011 to launch the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which has suffered from declining viewing figures and management shake-ups.

She was rumoured to be pursuing Tiger Woods before the golfer made his own televised statement four months after revelations about his infidelity. Armstrong is arguably a bigger and much-needed ratings coup.

OWN announced the interview with the cyclist yesterday. But it added nothing about the extent of any confession or the timing of the conversation, which will be broadcast on television and on line at 2am, British time, on 18 January. Nor has it revealed whether questions have been pre- approved.

Few are holding their breath in anticipation of a full mea culpa. "Armstrong has defended himself with tooth and nail for decades," said Ned Boulting, the ITV cycling commentator. "To dent his reputation in front of a global audience would represent a complete about face in the way he operates.

Armstrong's lawyers will pay closest attention to the interview. The cyclist is already facing lawsuits filed by some of the accusers he sought to silence. If he can navigate legal pitfalls while appearing contrite, he could flourish before a typically forgiving audience.

"Oprah appeals to that deep part of middle America that to some extent still wants to believe in legends," Boulting said. "There are still people on Armstrong's side and those who are swayable to his cause even if it's cast in a different light. Oprah is perfect."

Armstrong has shown little sign of contrition since he was stripped of his titles in October. In November, he tweeted a photo of himself lying on his sofa surrounded by his framed Tour de France jerseys. This week he changed his profile on Strava, a popular fitness website, to read: "According to my rivals, peers, and teammates I won the Tour de France 7 times."

Oprah: Her best mea culpas

Michael Jackson

In 1993, before he faced child abuse allegations, the late king of pop, above, talked in front of record TV audiences about plastic surgery and the whitening of his skin.

Sarah Ferguson

The Duchess of York, left, talked in 2011 about not being invited to the Royal wedding and the newspaper sting operation in which she was filmed offering an undercover reporter access to Prince Andrew for £500,000.

Whitney Houston

In 2009, the late singer, left, admitted to smoking marijuana laced with cocaine daily and revealed extent of her abusive relationship with Bobby Brown.

Barbara Walters

The American TV journalist and presenter admitted in an interview in 2008 to being unfaithful and to an affair in the 1970s with married US Senator Edward Brooke.

Marion Jones

The disgraced track-and-field athlete was still on probation in 2008 when she talked about doping after serving a six-month prison sentence for her role in the Balco scandal.

James Frey

The author admitted in 2006 to having made up details of his life in his book, A Million Little Pieces, which had become a best-seller after being endorsed by Winfrey during an earlier interview.

 

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Delivery Manager - Software Company

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager Kingston Up...

Year 3 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 Primary Teacher in HullA f...

Drama Teacher - Hull and Grimsby

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: The JobRandstad are currently in need of ...

Reception Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is the UK mark...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments