Oprah Winfrey: Lance Armstrong 'did not come clean in the manner I had expected'

Oprah Winfrey has revealed Lance Armstrong did not come clean in the way she had expected him to in her interview with the disgraced cyclist.

The Texan was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the International Cycling Union last year after the United States Anti-Doping Agency found he had been at the heart of "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

"I would say (Lance Armstrong) did not come clean in the manner I had expected. It was surprising to me," talk show host Winfrey told the CBS This Morning programme.

The first part of the Armstrong interview on the 'Oprah' show is due to be broadcast at 9pm local time on Thursday (2am GMT on Friday).

Winfrey said she was "satisfied" with Armstrong's answers during her interview, which will be aired over two nights because of its length.

She said she was "mesmerised and riveted" by some of his answers.

Winfrey thought the entire interview was difficult for the Texan and said he was "emotional" during it.

But she said Armstrong "certainly had prepared himself".

"I feel he answered the questions in a way that (suggested) he was ready," she added.

Asked if Armstrong was contrite during the interview, Winfrey said: "I choose not to characterise.

"I would rather people make their own decisions about whether he was contrite or not. I felt that he was thoughtful, I thought that he was serious, I thought that he certainly had prepared himself for this moment. I would say that he met the moment."

Winfrey revealed no lawyers had been allowed at the interview at her request, although Armstrong did have a team of people in the room.

She added that at one point Armstrong asked her: "Will there be a point where you lighten up?"

Winfrey also revealed she had read several books by The Sunday Times journalist David Walsh on allegation of doping. The paper is currently pursuing legal action against him.

Nicole Cooke, the 2008 Olympic and world road race champion, claimed 41-year-old Armstrong would never be able to atone for his tainted past.

Cooke, who retired from the sport yesterday, told Press Association Sport: "He will never give back the careers and the opportunities and the dreams that were stolen from so many people.

"It's outrageous, everything that he's done. The bullying, everything else."

Some allies of Armstrong might argue what he has given to the sport of cycling outweighs his many misdemeanours. Cooke vehemently disagrees.

"It's absolutely disgusting that point of view," she added.

"You are putting dopers up on a pedestal. Think of the example you are giving to society: doping pays. Cheating pays."

Cycling's world governing body has urged Armstrong to co-operate with the independent review it set-up in the aftermath of the USADA report.

A statement from the UCI read: "The UCI will not be making any further comments on matters concerning Lance Armstrong until it has had the opportunity to view his much publicised interview with Oprah Winfrey.

"The UCI notes the media speculation surrounding the interview and reports that he has finally come clean and admitted doping during his cycling career.

"If these reports are true, we would strongly urge Lance Armstrong to testify to the Independent Commission established to investigate the allegations made against the UCI in the recent USADA reasoned decision on Lance Armstrong and the United States Postal Service (USPS) team."

Armstrong yesterday apologised to staff at the Livestrong cancer foundation.

Renee Nicholas from the charity said the cyclist's fall from grace had not affected its work.

She told ITV News: "People understand the difference between the sport and the work that this foundation has done. It has always been very separate.

"People who really do take the time to learn about the work we do, are aware of the differences between the two and incredibly supportive of the work the foundation does."

 

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