“Emotional” doesn’t come close to describing Lance Armstrong’s conversation with Oprah Winfrey — an interview that included his confession about using performance-enhancing drugs to win seven Tour de France titles, Ms. Winfrey said Tuesday.
She recounted her session with Mr. Armstrong on “CBS This Morning” and promoted what has become a two-part special on her OWN network, even while international doping officials said it wouldn’t be enough to save the disgraced cyclist’s career.
“I don’t think ‘emotional’ begins to describe the intensity or the difficulty he experienced in talking about some of these things,” Ms. Winfrey said.
Mr. Armstrong admitted during the interview at an Austin hotel that he used drugs to help him win the titles.
“It was surprising to me,” she said. “I would say that for myself, my team, all of us in the room, we were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers.”
Ms. Winfrey said she went right at Mr. Armstrong with tough questions and, during a break, he asked whether they would lighten up at some point. Still, Ms. Winfrey said she did not have to dig and that he was “pretty forthcoming.”
“I felt that he was thoughtful. I thought that he was serious,” she said. “I thought that he certainly had prepared for this moment. I would say that he met the moment.”
The session was to be broadcast in a single special Thursday, but Ms. Winfrey said it now will run in two parts on consecutive nights — Thursday and Friday — because there is so much material. Ms. Winfrey would not characterize whether Mr. Armstrong seemed contrite, saying she would leave that to viewers.
As stunning as Mr. Armstrong’s confession was for someone who relentlessly denied using performance-enhancing drugs, the World Anti-Doping Agency said he must confess under oath if he wants to reduce his lifetime ban from sports.
The cyclist was stripped of his Tour titles, lost most of his endorsements and was forced to leave his cancer charity, Livestrong, last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a 1,000-page report that accused him of masterminding a long-running doping scheme.
The agency’s statement said: “Only when Mr. Armstrong makes a full confession under oath — and tells the anti-doping authorities all he knows about doping activities — can any legal and proper process for him to seek any reopening or reconsideration of his lifetime ban commence.”
The International Cycling Union issued a statement urging Mr. Armstrong to tell his story to an independent commission it has organized to examine claims that cycling’s governing body hid suspicious samples from the cyclist, accepted financial donations from him and helped him avoid detection in doping tests.
• Jim Litke reported from Chicago. Pete Yost in Washington also contributed to this report.