Lance Armstrong to be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey about doping scandal
Disgraced rider to give first interview about doping scandal to US talk show host, but it is not clear if he will make dramatic public confession
Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong will discuss the doping scandal that dramatically brought down his stellar career during an interview with Oprah Winfrey next week.
The talk show host said a 90-minute special would address "years of accusations of cheating, and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs" throughout Armstrong's "storied cycling career".
The interview will be Armstrong's first since being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year. It will be streamed live on Winfrey's website.
Last week, The New York Times reported that Armstrong was considering publicly admitting he used banned performance-enhancing drugs, in an apparent bid to return to competitive sport in marathons and triathlons.
In the interview to be shown next Thursday, Winfrey will speak to Armstrong at his home in Austin, Texas. Before the ban, Armstrong was competing in triathlons, and his Twitter feed is full of posts about his continued biking, swimming and runs.
His tweets also make clear he is following the media storm surrounding his fall from grace - and that he has not always been pleased with how the case has been portrayed.
"It took a 'photographer' to 'write' the most balanced piece we've seen yet," Armstrong wrote on January 2, linking to an essay by cycling photographer Graham Watson, who wrote, in part, "Outright angels do not win a Tour de France".
Watson said: "Lance did what he had to do to win, and he clearly did it very well.
"If he cheated, he cheated the other cheats of that era, even if by doing so he also cheated an adoring public."
Armstrong has vehemently denied doping and it is not known if he will admit to doping on Winfrey's show.
The show used words like "no-holds-barred interview" but also referred to the "alleged doping scandal", "accusations of cheating" and "charges of lying" in its publicity statement.
The announcement came on the same day 60 Minutes said US Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart told them in an interview to be aired overnight in the US that Armstrong attempted to donate around US$250,000 to the agency.
Tygart said he was bowled over by the "totally inappropriate" donation offer from one of Armstrong's representatives in 2004, which he immediately refused. "I was stunned," Tygart said in the interview.
"It was a clear conflict of interest for Usada. We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer."
Tygart declined to comment on Armstrong's decision to go on Winfrey's show.
Tygart, who described Armstrong's heavy-handed tactics as being similar to the "Mafia", denounced a US$100,000 donation Armstrong made previously to the International Cycling Union (UCI).
But Armstrong's lawyer, Tim Herman, told USA Today there was never a donation attempt from the cyclist.