15 Jan 2013

Armstrong admits doping to Oprah - media reports

10:25 pm on 15 January 2013

Disgraced champion cyclist Lance Armstrong has confessed in an interview with Oprah Winfrey to using performance-enhancing drugs, according to media reports in the United States.

The 41-year-old, who won seven successive Tour de France titles, has always vehemently denied using drugs and has never been proven to have tested positive.

But a report from the American anti-doping body USADA in October last year described him as the ringmaster of the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme the sport had seen involving anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, blood transfusions and other doping.

Less than two weeks later, Armstrong's Tour de France victories were nullified and he was banned from cycling for life after the International Cycling Union ratified the USADA's sanctions against him.

The interview with Oprah Winfrey will not air in the United States until Thursday, and neither she nor her spokesperson would confirm any details of the taped interview. It is Armstrong's first interview since being stripped of the Tour de France titles, Reuters reports.

The unconfirmed reports about his admissions followed Armstrong's apology to the staff of the cancer foundation he had started over difficulties they may have experienced due to the doping controversy.

Armstrong made the apology during a private conversation with staff in Austin, Texas, a spokeswoman for the Livestrong Foundation said.

"It was a very sincere and heartfelt expression of regret over any stress that they've suffered over the course of the last few years as a result of the media attention," foundation spokeswoman Katherine McLane told Reuters.

Armstrong, a survivor of testicular cancer, stepped down as a Livestrong board member in November last year.