A person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity says that Lance Armstrong apologized to the staff at his Livestrong Cancer Foundation on Monday before the taping of his interview with Oprah Winfrey later today.
Armstrong was stripped last year of his seven Tour de France titles due to doping charges, which he vehemently denied before today’s reported apology to the Livestrong staff. According to the anonymous person, who has direct knowledge of the meeting, Armstrong choked up as he told the staff he was sorry and several staff members cried when he did.
The disgraced cyclist also apologized for letting the staff down and putting Livestrong at risk, although he fell short of making a direct confession about using banned drugs, the person said, adding that Armstrong said he would try to restore the foundation's reputation while urging the staff to continue fighting for the charity's mission, which is helping cancer patients and their families.
Armstrong then headed for his interview with Oprah Winfrey, which was originally to be held at Armstrong’s home, but was held instead at a downtown hotel in Austen, where he, along with his legal team and close advisers, gathered for the taped interview, which is scheduled to air Thursday on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Armstrong was to make a limited confession to Winfrey about his role as the head of a long-running scheme to dominate the Tour de France with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs, the person told the AP.
During a jog on Sunday, Armstrong talked to the AP for a few minutes saying, "I'm calm, I'm at ease and ready to speak candidly." No other specifics were provided.
The cyclist lost his seven Tour de France titles when a federal investigation that was dropped, leading to no charges against Armstrong, instead resulted in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report (USADA) stepping in with an investigation of its own. That investigation resulted in a report released by the USADA, which characterized Armstrong as a “ruthless competitor who was willing to go to any lengths to win the prestigious race”.
In regard to the doping regimen allegedly carried out by the U.S. Postal Service team that Armstrong once led, the USADA’s chief executive Travis Tygert described it as, "The most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."
Armstrong’s taped interview with Winfrey today marks the first time he has responded in public to the USADA report, although he reportedly did not provide a detailed account about his involvement or go into detail about the specific allegations contained in the 1,000 plus pages of the USADA report.
On Saturday, Armstrong sent the AP a text, which said: "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."
Meanwhile, Armstrong faces numerous uphill legal battles, including a lawsuit filed by former teammate Floyd Landis. Armstrong is accused of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service, with another party – the Justice Department – weighing whether it will join the lawsuit as a plaintiff.
In yet another lawsuit, the London-based Sunday Times is also suing Armstrong for $500,000, which is the amount it paid to him to settle a libel lawsuit.
Armstrong also faces the threat of a lawsuit by Dallas-based SCA Promotions, which may seek recovery of more than $7.5 million, the amount it paid the cyclist after an arbitration panel ruled in Armstrong's favor in a prior dispute.
As it stands, Armstrong has already lost tens of millions of dollars when many sponsors dropped him following the scathing report from the USADA. Since being stripped of all seven Tour titles – and a lifetime ban from the sport that made him famous – Armstrong’s legal woes will likely cost him a lot more, although he is reportedly still worth around $100 million dollars.