Armstrong to break silence with Oprah

It will be Lance Armstrong's first formal interview since he was banned for life by the UCI

Lance Armstrong will break his silence over allegations of doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey next week.

The American was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the sport's governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI), following a report by the US Anti-Doping Agency which concluded the 41-year-old and his US Postal Service team had run "the most sophisticated, professionalism and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

It will be Armstrong's first formal interview since he was banned for life by the UCI.

In a statement, Oprah Winfrey Network claimed that "Armstrong will address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his storied cycling career."

The interview is scheduled to last for 90 minutes. It will be broadcast live at 9pm Eastern Time in the US on Thursday 17 January (2am GMT on 18 January).

The New York Times claimed at the weekend that Armstrong was close to admitting to the damning report from USADA.

The Texan, who did not co-operate with the USADA investigation, has remained silent since the sanction, although he opted not to appeal the decision.

Armstrong, who has shown an interest in competing in triathlons, also removed mention of his seven Tour wins on his Twitter profile.

Asked whether the 41-year-old was set to come clean about his drug-taking past Armstrong's lawyer, Tim Herman, told the New York Times: "Lance has to speak for himself on that."

Dodgy donation

The news comes amid reports that Armstrong once offered to donate nearly $250,000 to anti-doping efforts, the head of the USADA told 60 Minutes Sports in an interview to be aired on Wednesday.

Armstrong had a representative offer the agency a large sum of money in 2004, USADA chief Travis Tygart says in the wide-ranging interview.

"I was stunned," Tygart tells an interviewer, according to a statement issued by the program. "It was clear - it was a clear conflict of interest for USADA.

"We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer."

Asked how much money Armstrong offered the agency, Tygart replied; "in excess of $150,000."

Told that 60 Minutes had learned it was $250,000, Tygart answered; "It was around that ballpark."

Tygart also alleges Armstrong provided the International Cycling Union (UCI), a regulatory body for the sport, a gift of $100,000.

During the interview, Tygart describes Armstrong and his team of doctors, coaches and riders as similar to a "Mafia" that kept their secret for years and intimidated riders into silently following their illegal methods.

Some of those riders are considered victims by Tygart and he says they were forced to choose between following the doping program or being off the team.

Tygart said, he was "stunned" when the U.S. Justice Department failed to charge Armstrong at the end of a two-year investigation and failed to share their findings with USADA.

"I don't know (why they failed to charge Armstrong)," says Tygart. "It's a good question and one that if you finally answer, let me know."

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