World awaits Lance Armstrong admission

Disgraced cyclist's interview with Opray Winfrey airs later today

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The Independent Online

The world awaits Lance Armstrong's public admission of cheating in the next 24 hours.

Talk-show host Oprah Winfrey has already revealed Armstrong came clean over his sordid past, which saw him stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life, when the interview was recorded on Monday in his home city of Austin, Texas.

If Armstrong does make a full confession in the interview, which will be shown on the 'Oprah' show at 2100 local time tomorrow (0200 GMT on Friday), with the second part to follow 24 hours later, there are likely to be many repercussions.

The 41-year-old was banned for life after the United States Anti-Doping Agency found he had been at the heart of "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

The World Anti-Doping Agency and the UCI, cycling's world governing body, has urged Armstrong to reveal all to the authorities if he is to have any hope of lifting his life ban.

The International Olympic Committee, meanwhile, is among those waiting for the interview to be broadcast before considering whether to demand that Armstrong returns the bronze medal he won in the road time-trial at the 2000 Games in Sydney.

In December, the IOC postponed a decision on whether to strip Armstrong of the medal because it had to wait until the UCI had declared all his results ineligible. The two-and-a-half-hour interview, brokered between Armstrong and Winfrey over lunch in Hawaii, where both have homes, during the festive season, is to be broadcast over two nights this week.

The motives for an admission - revealed by Winfrey - are unclear, but the Texan, who retired from cycling for a second time in 2010, was competing in triathlons until he was banned last year.

In the last week, Armstrong has been apologising to prominent figures in his sporting life and the Livestrong Foundation confirmed he had paid it a visit.

Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer before his seven Tour 'wins', established the charity, but stood down as chairman following USADA's publication of its reasoned decision into the doping practices of his United States Postal Service team.

At that time references to his cycling career were also removed from his profile on the website.

A statement from Livestrong, who reiterated its independence from Armstrong, read: "He expressed his regret for the stress the team suffered in recent years as a result of the controversy surrounding his cycling career.

"We expect Lance to be completely truthful and forthcoming in his interview and with all of us in the cancer community."

The Winfrey interview could be just the beginning for Armstrong, with a confession opening him up to a host of possible legal actions.

There are existing lawsuits involving SCA Promotions and The Sunday Times, while the United States Department of Justice could yet join a whistle-blower lawsuit filed against Armstrong by former team-mate Floyd Landis.

The False Claims Act lawsuit could see Armstrong forced to repay a substantial sum to the US Government following its sponsorship of cycling through the US Postal Service.