Armstrong to face off with Oprah

Scathing of anti-doping investigators, journalists and critics while in exile for his monumental sporting sins, Lance Armstrong had been restricting his public communiques to Twitter's 140-character limit.

Now apparently on the verge of telling all, the once-was-hero is submitting himself to a long-form public inquisition. Not to an anti-doping investigator, journalist or critic, however, but to the world's most famous talkshow host.

Oprah Winfrey announced the ''BREAKING NEWS'' (her emphasis) on her Twitter account, which has a following of 15.7 million, on Wednesday.

Armstrong duly did his bit to spread the word by re-tweeting her post to his 3.8 million followers 15 minutes later.

Oprah's website is spruiking Armstrong's ''first no-holds-barred interview'' in a 90-minute special to be aired on January 17 in the US.

According to the publicity, Armstrong will ''address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating, and the charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his storied cycling career''.

60 Minutes also announced it has landed a scoop of its own by getting an audience with US Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart. It was Tygart who led the investigation that ruined Armstrong, stripping him of seven Tour de France titles in October.

''I was stunned,'' Tygart said in the interview. ''It was a clear conflict of interest for USADA. We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer.''

Describing Armstrong's tactics as mafia-like, Tygart has also denounced the large financial donation the cyclist once made to cycling's world governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale. The accusation that the UCI acted to protect Armstrong - specifically by helping to cover up a positive drug test at the Tour of Switzerland in 2001 - is now the subject of an investigation being undertaken by an independent commission.

Armstrong's lawyer, Tim Herman, wasted no time hitting back at the USADA donation claim, telling USA Today on Wednesday there was never such an offer.

''No truth to that story,'' Herman said. ''First Lance heard of it was today. He never made any such contribution or suggestion.''

Herman elaborated that he had a ''foggy recollection that Lance had been solicited for a contribution to purchase testing equipment and I think he made donations, but don't know if it was to USADA, UCI, WADA or some other acronym''.

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. Picture: REUTERS

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. Picture: REUTERS


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