Armstrong to Admit Doping in TV Interview, USA Today Says

Photographer: Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images

Lance Armstrong holds up seven fingers representing his seven Tour de France victories before the 21st stage of the 92nd Tour de France cycling race between Corbeil-Essonnes and the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Close

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Photographer: Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images

Lance Armstrong holds up seven fingers representing his seven Tour de France victories before the 21st stage of the 92nd Tour de France cycling race between Corbeil-Essonnes and the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Lance Armstrong will admit to doping during his cycling career in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey, USA Today reported, citing an unidentified person with knowledge of the situation.

The interview will be taped Jan. 14 at Armstrong’s home in Austin, Texas, and broadcast three days later on the Oprah Winfrey Network, the paper said on its website.

Armstrong, 41, plans to say he used performance-enhancing drugs without giving any detail on specific cases and events, USA Today said, citing the person. Armstrong has repeatedly denied using drugs to further his cycling career.

Tim Herman, Armstrong’s attorney, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

Armstrong was banned from competing for life by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in August and stripped of his seven Tour de France victories after declining to take the case to arbitration.

He lost the titles for what the USADA later said was a “career fueled start to finish by doping.” He forced teammates to dope or be fired from his team, and himself transfused blood and used testosterone and erythropoietin, or EPO, the agency said.

Public Perception

Armstrong faces a potentially unchangeable public perception as a cheater and his best course of action would be a confession, not an apology, though even that wouldn’t be a cure- all, said Jane Jordan-Meier, founder and chief executive officer of the Media Skills Academy in Fairfield, California.

“Apologies have become an art form and most of us don’t believe them anymore,” Jordan-Meier said in a phone interview earlier this week. “A confession, which is something that’s highly elevated, more spiritual, must absolutely come from the heart. It must be believable, it must be visceral in its very being, because that’s how we react to people in a crisis.”

Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer before conquering the sport of cycling, created Livestrong, the largest athlete- founded charity, which has raised more than $470 million since 1997, according to its website. Following USADA’s report, he severed ties with the foundation after years as perhaps the most well-known public figure in the fight against cancer.

In addition to stepping down from Livestrong, Armstrong was also dropped by several sponsors. Nike Inc. (NKE) pulled its support for him one week after the USADA report.

Right Direction

A week later, Oakley Inc. severed its “long-standing relationship” with Armstrong to become the last big company to fall in the cyclist’s sponsor lineup. Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI), Trek Bicycle Corp., and energy supplement makers FRS and Honey Stinger also dropped the athlete.

For Armstrong, the interview may at least be a first step in the right direction.

“It’s never too late,” Jordan-Meier said. “People confess on their death beds and it gives them peace of mind, because there’s some dignity restored. It would bring back some integrity to the sport, to the fans, to themselves.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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