Lance Armstrong plans to make an admission about doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey scheduled to tape Monday at his home in Austin, Texas, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
In the interview, which is scheduled to air Thursday on the Oprah Winfrey Network, the famed cyclist plans to admit to doping throughout his career but probably will not get into great detail about specific cases and events, the person said. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
Armstrong, 41, has strenuously denied doping for years, often attacking his accusers as liars and arming himself with high-priced attorneys to fight charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions to gain an edge throughout his cycling career. But things changed for him after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a massive amount of evidence that showed otherwise in October. Since then, his sponsors dropped him and Armstrong was forced to step down from Livestrong, the cancer-fighting charity he founded.
Armstrong’s planned admission carries with it the risk of being sued or held liable by those who believe he defrauded them by lying about his performance and use of drugs. He also could face criminal prosecution, though that seems unlikely. For example, Armstrong testified under oath in 2005 that he never used such drugs, but he is not likely to face criminal charges for perjury the testimony is beyond the statute of limitations.
After keeping a low profile since October, Armstrong has various possible motives to confess. A big one is his ongoing concern that the controversy might start hurting Livestrong. Another is the icy reception he’s received in the media and public in the face of overwhelming evidence that he not only lied for years to deny his involvement in doping, but attacked other cyclists who cooperated with anti-doping officials.
His admission will not bring him back to competition any time soon. Having been banned for life and stripped of his seven titles in the Tour de France, Armstrong would have to provide substantial assistance to doping officials before he could have his eligibility reinstated. If he provided new information about cheating in the sport, he could have his ban reduced to no less than eight years, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency code. It’s also possible that WADA and USADA could reach an agreement to reduce the ban further depending on his information and cooperation.
An investigation currently is underway in Europe to explore Armstrong’s relationship with the International Cycling Union (UCI), and how UCI might have enabled or aided Armstrong’s doping ring. If Armstrong provided assistance to that investigation, it likely would be considered in reducing his ban.
An attorney for Armstrong didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.