Lance Armstrong Admits Doping in Tour de France, Sources Say

PHOTO: Lance Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey
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Lance Armstrong today admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France, sources told ABC News.

A government source tells ABC News that Armstrong is now talking with authorities about paying back some of the US Postal Service money from sponsoring his team. He is also talking to authorities about confessing and naming names, giving up others involved in illegal doping. This could result in a reduction of his lifetime ban, according to the source, if Armstrong provides substantial and meaningful information.

Armstrong made the admission in what sources describe as an emotional interview with Winfrey to air on "Oprah's Next Chapter" on Jan. 17.

The 90-minute interview at his home in Austin, Texas, was Armstrong's first since officials stripped him of his world cycling titles in response to doping allegations.

Word of Armstrong's admission comes after a Livestrong official said that Armstrong apologized today to the foundation's staff ahead of his interview.

The disgraced cyclist gathered with about 100 Livestrong Foundation staffers at their Austin headquarters for a meeting that included social workers who deal directly with patients as part of the group's mission to support cancer victims.

Armstrong's "sincere and heartfelt apology" generated lots of tears, spokeswoman Katherine McLane said, adding that he "took responsibility" for the trouble he has caused the foundation.

McLane declined to say whether Armstrong's comments included an admission of doping, just that the cyclist wanted the staff to hear from him in person rather than rely on second-hand accounts.

Armstrong then took questions from the staff.

Armstrong's story has never changed. In front of cameras, microphones, fans, sponsors, cancer survivors -- even under oath -- Lance Armstrong hasn't just denied ever using performance enhancing drugs, he has done so in an indignant, even threatening way.

Armstrong, 41, was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from the sport for life by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in October 2012, after allegations that he benefited from years of systematic doping, using banned substances and receiving illicit blood transfusions.

"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling," Pat McQuaid, the president of the International Cycling Union, said at a news conference in Switzerland announcing the decision. "This is a landmark day for cycling."

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a 200-page report Oct. 10 after a wide-scale investigation into Armstrong's alleged use of performance-enhancing substances.

Armstrong won the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005.

According to a source, speaking to ABC News, a representative of Armstrong's once offered to make a donation estimated around $250,000 to the agency, as "60 Minutes Sports" on Showtime first reported.

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

Armstrong, who himself recovered from testicular cancer, created the Lance Armstrong Foundation (now known as the LIVESTRONG Foundation) to help people with cancer cope, as well as foster a community for cancer awareness. Armstrong resigned late last year as chairman of the LIVESTRONG Foundation, which raised millions of dollars in the fight against cancer.

The New York Times reported Jan. 4 that Armstrong told associates he is considering admitting that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his cycling career. The Times' unnamed sources said he would admit the information in order to restore his eligibility in athletic events such as triathlons and running events. Herman denied the claims were true.

Herman told The Associated Press he had no knowledge of Armstrong considering a confession and said: "When, and if, Lance has something to say, there won't be any secret about it."

Armstrong, who has spent so much energy bitterly fighting accusers and whistleblowers, has left many questioning whether Winfrey's televised absolution will be able to help his cause.

Winfrey tweeted the news to her followers last Tuesday night. "BREAKING NEWS: Looking forward to this conversation with @lancearmstrong #nextchapter"

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