Lance Armstrong ended a decade of denial by confessing to Oprah Winfrey in a recorded interview in Austin, Texas, that the onetime cycling king used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The admission Monday came hours after an emotional apology by Mr. Armstrong to the Livestrong charity that he founded and turned into a global institution on the strength of his celebrity as a cancer survivor.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the interview is to be broadcast Thursday on Ms. Winfrey's cable television network. She tweeted afterward, "Just wrapped with (at)lancearmstrong. More than 21/2 hours. He came READY!" She was scheduled to appear on "CBS This Morning" today to discuss the interview.
The confession was a stunning reversal for Mr. Armstrong after years of public statements, interviews and court battles in which he denied doping and zealously protected his reputation.
Even before the session with Ms. Winfrey began around 2 p.m. EST, Mr. Armstrong's apology suggested he would carry through on promises over the weekend to answer her questions "directly, honestly and candidly."
The cyclist was stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles, lost most of his endorsements and was forced to leave the foundation last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a damning, 1,000-page report that accused him of masterminding a long-running doping scheme.
Mr. Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October 1996. The disease soon spread to his lungs and brains. His doctors gave him a 40 percent chance of survival at the time and never expected he would compete at anything more strenuous than gin rummy. Winning the world's most grueling sporting event less than three years later made Mr. Armstrong a hero.
About 100 staff members of the charity Mr. Armstrong founded in 1997 gathered in a conference room as he arrived with a simple message: "I'm sorry." He choked up during a 20-minute talk, expressing regret for the long-running controversy over performance-enhancers had caused, but stopped short of admitting he used them.
Before he was done, several members were in tears when he urged them to continue the charity's mission of helping cancer patients and their families.
"Heartfelt and sincere," is how Livestrong spokesman Katherine McLane described his speech.
Mr. Armstrong later huddled with almost a dozen people before stepping into an interview room set up at a downtown Austin hotel.
Mr. Armstrong also went after his critics ruthlessly during his reign as cycling champion, scolding some in public and waging legal battles against 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 lawsuit, and Dallas-based SCA Promotions, which tried to deny Mr. Armstrong a promised bonus for a Tour de France win, has threatened to bring yet another lawsuit seeking to recover more than $7.5 million an arbitration panel awarded the cyclist in that dispute.
In addition, former teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, has filed a federal whistle-blower lawsuit that accused Mr. Armstrong of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service, which sponsored Mr. Armstrong's Tour teams.