No one other than Lance Armstrong is certain what the disgraced cyclist will say when he breaks a three-month silence and addresses the allegations that cost him his record seven Tour de France titles in an interview to be taped Monday.
But speculation is building that he will acknowledge that a portion of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s voluminous account of his career-long doping practices is accurate, take issue with other accusations and offer an apology.
The Associated Press, citing an unnamed source, reported Saturday that Armstrong will make a limited confession to doping and also offer an apology during the interview.
The interview, which he has granted to Oprah Winfrey, will be taped at Armstrong’s house in Austin, Texas, edited to 90 minutes and aired Thursday at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Portions of the conversation, known as teasers, are expected to be released in the days leading up to the broadcast on the OWN Network and live-streamed on oprah.com.
Armstrong’s decision to speak publicly about any aspect of the doping allegations carries a risk.
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.
Armstrong, 41, was banned from competition for life in October by international cycling officials, who also stripped him of all of his cycling achievements, following the release of a 1,000-page report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Based in part on the testimony of 11 former teammates, the report included detailed accounts of the lengths Armstrong went in taking performance-enhancing drugs, engaging in banned blood-doping practices, hiding the evidence and pressuring those around him to do the same.
For more than a dozen years he has steadfastly insisted that he never doped.