Armstrong admits to doping, claims Oprah

Lance Armstrong, sport’s greatest ever master of the "Who? Me?" look of feigned innocence, has finally admitted what the rest of the world has known for months, if not years. He has confessed to doping during his dominance of professional cycling in the 1990s. At least he has according to Oprah Winfrey.

Armstrong recorded a two-hour interview with the US TV talk-show host, to be broadcast in two parts. Oprah told reporters that Armstrong was the biggest interview she had ever conducted in terms of exposure.

"For myself, my team, we were mesmerised and riveted by some of his answers," she said, confirming that Armstrong had talked about doping, although it was not clear whether he had made the sort of teary confessional that have been Oprah’s stock-in-trade.

"He did not come clean in the manner I expected. I was surprised," she explained. "There were a couple of times when he was emotional but emotional doesn't begin to describe the intensity or difficulty he experienced in talking about some of these things."

Oprah was careful to point out that it had not been an easygoing showbiz-style interview, but a thorough interrogation of the disgraced athlete. "Most of the important questions that many people around the world wanted to hear were answered," she said. "I was satisfied with the answers. I thought he was thoughtful, he was serious. He had certainly prepared himself for this moment. He met the moment. At the end of this, we were both pretty exhausted."

For Armstrong it’s the beginning of an arduous campaign of damage limitation. In addition to lifetime bans from cycling and all sport, he now faces a mounting list of litigation as sports bodies and event organisers attempt to claw back the millions of dollars worth of prizes and appearance fees they paid to Armstrong in the era when he dominated cycling.

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