She said the cyclist was “forthcoming” as she asked him in detail about doping allegations that followed him throughout his seven Tour de France victories.
Speaking on CBS This Morning in the US, Winfrey said she had not planned to address Armstrong’s confession before the interview aired but, “by the time I left Austin and landed in Chicago, you all had already confirmed it”.
Winfrey interviewed Armstrong at a hotel in Austin. The session was to be broadcast on Thursday but Winfrey said it will now run in two parts over two nights because there is so much material.
Armstrong won every Tour from 1999 to 2005, but each of those titles was stripped last year as the US Anti-Doping Agency released a massive report built around the testimony of former teammates. USADA accused Armstrong of masterminding a long-running and sophisticated doping operation on his teams.
The 41-year-old denied the charges for years, and fiercely attacked his critics. But after losing his titles and being abandoned by corporate sponsors, he has changed course.
The confession was a stunning reversal for a proud athlete and celebrity.
The International Cycling Union, or UCI, said it was aware of the reports that Armstrong had confessed to Winfrey. The governing body for the sport urged Armstrong to tell his story to an independent commission it has set up to examine claims it covered up suspicious samples from the cyclist, accepted financial donations from him and helped him avoid detection in doping tests.
Armstrong started the day with a visit to the headquarters of Livestrong, the charity he founded in 1997 and turned into a global force on the strength of his athletic dominance and personal story of surviving testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain.
About 100 Livestrong staff members gathered in a conference room as Armstrong told them “I’m sorry.” He choked up during a 20-minute talk, expressing regret, but stopped short of admitting he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Before he was done, several members were in tears when he urged them to continue t helping cancer patients and their families.
Armstrong later huddled with almost a dozen people before stepping into a room set up at a the Austin hotel for his interview with Winfrey. The group included close friends and lawyers.