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January 13, 2013

Armstrong will answer ‘honestly’ during interview with Oprah

AUSTIN, Texas — Lance Armstrong said he will answer questions “directly, honestly and candidly” during an interview with Oprah Winfrey next week. He will also apologize and make a limited confession to using performance-enhancing drugs, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Armstrong has spent more than a decade denying that he doped to win the Tour de France seven times. Without saying whether he would confess or apologize during the taping, Armstrong told The Associated Press in a text message early Saturday, “I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I’ll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That’s all I can say.”

A confession would be a stunning reversal for Armstrong after years of public statements, interviews and court battles from Austin to Europe in which he denied doping and zealously protected his reputation.

Armstrong was stripped of his titles and banned from the sport for life last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping agency issued a detailed report accusing him of leading a sophisticated and brazen drug program on his U.S. Postal Service teams that included steroids, blood boosters and a range of performance-enhancing drugs.

Armstrong’s interview with Winfrey is not expected to go into great detail about specific allegations levied in the more than 1,000-page USADA report. But Armstrong will make a general confession and apologize, according to the person, who requested anonymity because there was no authorization to speak publicly. Several outlets had also reported that Armstrong was considering a confession.

Armstrong hasn’t responded to the USADA report or being stripped of his Tour de France titles. But shortly afterward, he tweeted a picture of himself on a couch at home with all seven of the yellow leader’s jerseys on display in a room at his home in Austin. He also agreed to be interviewed there, in what the Oprah Winfrey Network announced would be a “no-holds barred” session. That’s scheduled to be taped Monday and broadcast Thursday night.

“His reputation is in crisis,” said crisis management expert Mike Paul, president of New York-based, MGP & Associates PR. “Most people don’t trust what comes out of his mouth. He has to be truly repentant and humble.”

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