On the eve of his couch confessional with Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong said he is “ready to speak candidly” about doping allegations that caused him to be stripped of seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from competition.
“I’m calm, I’m at ease and ready to speak candidly,” Armstrong told an Associated Press reporter who interrupted his morning run Sunday in Austin, Texas. “I hope we’ll talk for a couple of hours.”
TV crews were arriving Sunday, ahead of Monday’s interview with Winfrey. It will be telecast at 9 p.m. EST Thursday on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” on the Oprah Winfrey Network and streamed on Oprah.com.
USA Today has reported that Armstrong, in his first public comments about the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report accusing him of being at the heart of a sophisticated doping program, is expected to admit to doping throughout his career, but will not go into specifics for, as Liz Clarke writes, a number of good reasons:
He faces a so-called whistleblower lawsuit, filed by former rival Floyd Landis, which claims he defrauded the federal government by doping under the banner of the U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team. Tailwind Sports, the company that owned the team, was bankrolled with federal funds, and the contract made clear that cyclists were to compete according to the rules.
As the taping of Monday’s interview nears, it’s unclear whether the U.S. Justice Department will join the action, known as a qui tam suit. Nearly $100 million is potentially at issue, if the full value of the U.S. Postal Service sponsorship is trebled and Armstrong, as the team’s lead rider, is held personally accountable.
Armstrong also faces a suit by a British newspaper that he successfully sued for libel over its doping claims. He has also lost corporate sponsors Nike, Anheuser-Busch, Trek and others.