Oprah Winfrey has revealed Lance Armstrong “did not come clean in the way I expected” about claims he used performance-enhancing drugs.
The chat host did not go into details of their lengthy interview but said she had been “satisfied” with Lance Armstrong’s answers.
The questions “people around the world have been waiting to hear were answered”, Oprah winfrey told CBS news.
Lance Armstrong, 41, who has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, has thus far vehemently denied dope allegations.
But rumors have been circulating for some time that Lance Armstrong wants to come clean in order to return to professional sport.
Lance Armstrong was accused last year by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) of what it called “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping programme” the sport had ever seen.
He is now said to be discussing whether to testify against sport officials.
Oprah Winfrey told CBS that the two-and-a-half hour interview in Lance Armstrong’s home town of Austin, Texas, would be broadcast over two nights, starting on Thursday.
She said she had taken 112 questions into her interview with him, most of which she got to ask.
Lance Armstrong was “serious and thoughtful”, had prepared well for the interview, and “met the moment”, she said.
“At the end of it… we both were pretty exhausted. And I would say I was satisfied,” she said.
“I would say he did not come clean in the manner that I expected,” she said in response to a question.
“It was surprising to me. I would say that for myself, my team, all of us in the room, we were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers.”
“I didn’t get all the questions asked, but I think the most important questions and the answers that people around the world have been waiting to hear were answered,” Oprah Winfrey said.
She would leave it to others to decide whether he was contrite, she went on to say.
Oprah Winfrey told CBS that she had agreed with Lance Armstrong and his team that they would not talk about what had been said until the broadcast, but rumors of a confession quickly began circulating in the US media.
“By the time I left Austin and landed in Chicago, you all had already confirmed it. So I’m like – how did you all do that? We all agreed that we weren’t going to say anything,” she said.
“I’m sitting here now because it’s already been confirmed.”
When asked why Lance Armstrong had agreed to the interview, Oprah Winfrey said: “I think he was just ready.”
The interview was recorded just hours after Lance Armstrong apologized to staff at the Livestrong Foundation but stopped short of a full admission of guilt.
Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, lost most of his sponsorships and was forced to leave Livestrong after the damning USADA report.
Admitting doping might be a first step into trying to mitigate his lifetime ban from competition. Lance Armstrong is also said to be planning to testify against powerful individuals in the world of cycling – though not other cyclists – he will claim knew about or facilitated the doping, sources said.
But an admission of guilt would raise legal issues as well as further backlash from the cycling world and cancer community, in which Lance Armstrong is a prominent figure as a cancer survivor.
The New York Times has reported Lance Armstrong’s supporters are concerned he could face perjury charges if he confesses to using performance-enhancing drugs, because he testified in a 2005 court case that he had never done so.
Former teammate Floyd Landis – who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping – has filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit accusing Armstrong of defrauding the US Postal Service, which sponsored the team to the tune of more than $30 million.
The US Department of Justice is considering whether to join the lawsuit against him, reports say, and Lance Armstrong’s lawyers are said to be in negotiations to settle the suit.
The UK’s Sunday Times is already suing Lance Armstrong for up to $1.6 million over a libel payment to him in 2004 after the newspaper alleged he had cheated.
And a Texan insurance company is pursuing Lance Armstrong for $11 million over insured performance bonuses paid to the American after he claimed his fourth, fifth and sixth Tour de France victories.