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Lance pours his soul out to Oprah

After years of denial, disgraced cyclist admits to doping

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AUSTIN, Texas -- "Emotional" doesn't come close to describing Lance Armstrong's conversation with Oprah Winfrey -- an interview that included his confession about using performance-enhancing drugs to win seven Tour de France titles, Winfrey said Tuesday.

She recounted her session with Armstrong on CBS This Morning and promoted what has become a two-part special on her OWN network, even while international doping officials said it wouldn't be enough to save the disgraced cyclist's career.

"I don't think 'emotional' begins to describe the intensity or the difficulty he experienced in talking about some of these things," Winfrey said.

Armstrong admitted during the interview at an Austin hotel that he used drugs to help him win the titles.

"It was surprising to me," she said. "I would say that for myself, my team, all of us in the room, we were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers."

Winfrey said she went right at Armstrong with tough questions and, during a break, he asked if they would lighten up at some point. Still, Winfrey said she did not have to dig and that he was "pretty forthcoming."

"I felt that he was thoughtful. I thought that he was serious," she said. "I thought that he certainly had prepared for this moment. I would say that he met the moment."

Two parts

The session was to be broadcast in a single special Thursday but Winfrey said it will now run in two parts on consecutive nights -- Thursday and Friday -- because there is so much material. Winfrey would not characterize whether Armstrong seemed contrite, saying she'll leave that to viewers.

As stunning as Armstrong's confession was for someone who relentlessly denied using PEDs, the World Anti-Doping Agency said he must confess under oath if he wants to reduce his lifetime ban from sports.

The cyclist was stripped of his Tour titles, lost most of his endorsements and was forced to leave his cancer charity, Livestrong, last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a 1,000-page report that accused him of masterminding a long-running doping scheme.

WADA's statement said: "Only when Mr. Armstrong makes a full confession under oath -- and tells the anti-doping authorities all he knows about doping activities -- can any legal and proper process for him to seek any reopening or reconsideration of his lifetime ban commence."

Armstrong often went after his critics during his long reign as cycling champion. He scolded some in public and didn't hesitate to punish outspoken riders during the race itself. He waged legal battles against still others in court.

At least one of his opponents, the London-based Sunday Times, has already filed a lawsuit to recover about $500,000 it paid him to settle a libel case, and Dallas-based SCA Promotions, which tried to deny Armstrong a promised bonus for a Tour de France win, has threatened to bring another lawsuit seeking to recover more than $7.5 million awarded by a panel.

In Australia, the government of South Australia state said it will seek the repayment of several million dollars in appearance fees paid to Armstrong.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 16, 2013 C7

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