Peter Dejong Associated Press file, 2005 Lance Armstrong puts up seven fingers before the 21st and final stage of the 2005 Tour de France, signaling his seventh straight win.

Source: Armstrong confesses to Oprah

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 - 6:52 am

Lance Armstrong confessed that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France during an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Monday, 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 following a voluminous U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that portrayed him as a ruthless competitor, willing to go to any lengths to win the prestigious race.

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, Texas, hotel about three hours after they arrived Monday afternoon for the taping. Among them were Armstrong 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 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!"

In a text to the Associated Press on Saturday, Armstrong said: "I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I'll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That's all I can say."

Armstrong stopped at the Livestrong Foundation, which he founded, on his way to the interview and said "I'm sorry" to staff members, some of whom broke down in tears. A person with knowledge of that session said Armstrong choked up, too.

The person also said Armstrong apologized for letting the staff down and putting Livestrong at risk, but he did not make a direct confession to using banned drugs. He said 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 about 100 staff members for about 20 minutes, expressing regret for everything the controversy has put them through, the person said. He told them how much the foundation means to him and that he considers the people who work there to be like members of his family.

Winfrey and her crew earlier had 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 slipped away for a run despite the crowds outside his home. He returned by cutting through a neighbor's yard and hopping a fence.

– Associated Press

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