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Report: Armstrong tells Oprah he began doping before cancer diagnosis

The SportsXchange

Lance Armstrong took steps Monday to attempt to repair his shattered image, apologizing to employees at his Livestrong Foundation and then confessing to Oprah Winfrey that he cheated in his cycling career, according to USA Today Sports.

The newspaper reported that Armstrong told Winfrey he began doping in the mid-1990s -- before he was diagnosed with cancer. That would corroborate allegations made by several of Armstrong's former cycling teammates.

Armstrong also has talked with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials about potentially giving a "full debrief" in which he'd detail his actions and released documents, but he hasn't committed to such a meeting, USA Today Sports reported.

A debriefing meeting with USADA might help Armstrong in his bid to overturn his lifetime ban, which potentially could be reduced to an eight-year suspension.

Earlier Monday, at the Austin, Texas, headquarters of the foundation he created, the former cycling champion expressed regret for the damage his scandal caused the organization, but he didn't expressly admit to using performance-enhancing drugs.

Armstrong then was interviewed in Austin by Winfrey, who subsequently posted on Twitter, "Just wrapped with @lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!"

No details of the interview were released publicly. Winfrey will appear Tuesday on "CBS This Morning," and the Armstrong interview will air on the Oprah Winfrey Network at 9 p.m. EST on Thursday.

Armstrong was stripped of all seven of his Tour de France championships last year after USADA produced a massive report detailing the extent of his doping and related cover-up. He was banned from cycling for life.

Until now, Armstrong has defiantly denied any hint of cheating, but when he dropped his appeal last year, it was viewed as a tacit admission.

Livestrong spokeswoman Katherine McLane said Armstrong offered a "sincere and heartfelt apology" that left staffers in tears, according to ABC News. She said Armstrong expressed a desire to have the Livestrong crew hear from him directly rather than relying on second-hand reports.

Armstrong started the foundation to assist people affected by cancer. Formerly known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the name was changed last year in the wake of Armstrong dropping his appeal of USADA's report. Armstrong also stepped down as chairman of the board in October.

From 1996 and 1998, Armstrong was treated for advanced testicular cancer that spread to his abdomen and lungs. He won the Tour de France for the first time in 1999.
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