AUSTIN, Texas - After a decade of denial, Lance Armstrong has finally come clean: He used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France.
The disgraced cyclist made the confession to Oprah Winfrey during an interview taped Monday, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the interview is to be broadcast Thursday on Winfrey's network.
The admission Monday came hours after an emotional apology by Armstrong to the Livestrong charity that he founded and took global on the strength of his celebrity as a cancer survivor who came back to win one of sport's most grueling events.
The confession was a stunning reversal, after years of public statements, interviews and court battles in which he denied doping and zealously protected his reputation.
Winfrey tweeted afterward, "Just wrapped with @lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!" She was scheduled to appear today on "CBS This Morning" to discuss the interview.
Even before the taping session with Winfrey began around noon Tucson time, Armstrong's apology suggested he would carry through on promises over the weekend to answer her questions "directly, honestly and candidly."
The cyclist was stripped of his Tour de France titles, lost most of his endorsements and was forced to leave the charity foundation last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a damning, 1,000-page report that accused him of masterminding a long-running doping scheme.
About 100 staff members of the charity Armstrong founded in 1997 gathered in a conference room as Armstrong arrived with a simple message: "I'm sorry."
He choked up during a 20-minute talk, expressing regret for the long-running controversy tied to performance-enhancers had caused, but stopped short of admitting he used them.
Before he was done, several members were in tears when he urged them to continue the charity's mission, helping cancer patients and their families.
"Heartfelt and sincere," is how Livestrong spokes-woman Katherine McLane described his speech.
Armstrong later huddled with almost a dozen people before stepping into a room set up at a downtown Austin hotel for the interview. The group included close friends and advisers, two of his lawyers and Bill Stapleton, his agent, manager and business partner.
No further details about the interview were available immediately because of confidentiality agreements signed by both camps.
USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart, a longtime critic of Armstrong's, called the drug regimen practiced while Armstrong led the U.S. Postal Service team "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."