Oprah Winfrey reveals Lance Armstrong admitted to doping but 'did not come clean in the manner I expected'

 

Los Angeles

Oprah Winfrey has confirmed that Lance Armstrong admitted to doping in an interview with her, but said the disgraced cyclist “did not come clean in the manner I expected”.

The seven-time Tour de France winner was stripped of his titles last year after a report by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) accused him of leading "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme" the sport had ever seen. He previously denied the rumours vehemently, attacking other riders who criticised him, and even waging legal battles against some accusers.

The interview with Winfrey, conducted on Monday at a hotel near Armstrong's home in Austin, is the first time he has broken his silence since the damning report was published. Winfrey was vague about the detail of his answers, but told CBS that she had been "mesmerised and riveted" by the Texan's confession.

Armstrong is also reported to have told her that he is ready to testify against several people in the cycling world who helped to cover up his doping.

Armstrong sent a text to the Associated Press over the weekend, saying, "I told her [Winfrey] to go wherever she wants and I'll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly." Asked whether she felt the athlete had been contrite, Winfrey replied: "I would rather people make their own decisions about whether he was contrite or not. I felt that he was thoughtful, I thought that he was serious, I thought that he certainly had prepared himself for this moment. I would say that he met the moment. At the end of it... we were both pretty exhausted."

Tonight, the International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound warned that cycling could be dropped as an Olympic sport if Armstrong implicated the sport's governing body, the International Cycling Union (ICU), in a cover-up of widespread doping during his interview. Mr Pound told Reuters that Olympic officials would be left with no choice other than to take drastic action if Armstrong could prove the ICU had acted improperly.

The interview will be broadcast over two nights on Winfrey's OWN channel, beginning on Friday at 2am GMT. Before the taping, Armstrong visited the Austin headquarters of his cancer foundation, Livestrong, where he made an emotional apology to around 100 staff. Livestrong spokeswoman Katherine McLane said: "It was a very sincere and heartfelt expression of regret."

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<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
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<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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