Los Angeles: Lance Armstrong has agreed to a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, where he will address allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career.
According to a release posted on Oprah’s website on Tuesday, it will be the first interview with Armstrong since his athletic career crumbled under the weight of a massive report by the United States Anti-doping Agency (Usada) detailing allegations of drug use by the cyclist and teammates on his US Postal Service team.
It is unclear if the interview at Armstrong’s home in Austin, Texas, has already been taped. Nicole Nichols, a spokeswoman for Oprah Winfrey Network & Harpo Studios, declined to comment. The show will air at 9pm EST on January 17 (6am January 18 UAE) on Own and Oprah.com.
Armstrong has strongly denied the doping charges that led to him being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, but The New York Times reported on Friday that he has told associates he is considering admitting the use of drugs.
However, Armstrong’s lawyer Tim Herman said he had no knowledge that Armstrong was considering a confession.
Earlier on Tuesday, ‘60 Minutes Sports’ reported that the head of the US Anti-Doping Agency told the show a representative for Armstrong offered the agency a ‘donation’ in excess of $150,000 (Dh551,000) several years before an investigation by the organisation led to the loss of Armstrong’s Tour de France titles.
In an interview for the premiere airing on Showtime on Wednesday night, Usada chief executive officer Travis Tygart said he was ‘stunned’ when he received the offer in 2004.
“It was a clear conflict of interest for Usada,” Tygart said. “We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer.”
Herman denied such an offer was made. “No truth to that story,” Herman wrote on Tuesday in an email. “First Lance heard of it was today. He never made any such contribution or suggestion.”
Tygart was travelling and did not respond to requests for comment. Usada spokeswoman Annie Skinner said Tygart’s comments from the interview were accurate. In it, he reiterates what he said last year — that he was surprised when federal investigators abruptly shut down their two-year probe into Armstrong and his business dealings, then refused to share any of the evidence they had gathered.
“You’ll have to ask the feds why they shut down,” Tygart said. “They enforce federal criminal laws. We enforce sports anti-doping violations. They’re totally separate. We’ve done our job.”