It's an obvious attempt to recoup his image, but given his vicious attacks, including on wives of his teammates, could Lance Armstrong's tell all interview cost him?
Lance Armstrong's 'Tell-All' Interview Could Be A Costly Mistake
The disgraced Texan's decision to talk to the famed US talk show host has divided opinion, as some say he needs to do something radical to rehabilitate his public profile, while others say speaking out will only make matters worse.
The crux of the matter is whether Armstrong, having been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, will finally admit that he was a drugs cheat. Such a confession would overturn more than a decade of strenuous denials.
"If I were his lawyer, I'd be telling him not to do it. I think he's crazy," said Peter Keane, law professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, of the cyclist's decision to give the interview, which will be aired Thursday.
"He's in considerable jeopardy of some sort of criminal prosecution... for which he could go to prison," Keane said.
The threats to Armstrong's liberty stem from the fallen icon's role in the US Postal Service team, where he spent his most successful years in the saddle.
Having been paid by the government, the former team leader could face criminal charges for making fraudulent statements to his bosses.
He could also be accused of perjury over disclosures made under oath to a US federal jury in 2005. If convicted, each false statement could lead to five years in jail.
Armstrong has always maintained that he did not use banned substances during his stellar career, but in August last year he chose not to contest charges put forward by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that he was a serial drugs cheat.
The pitfalls of speaking to Winfrey, considered the favored TV forum for "tell all" confessional style interviews, appear to have been weighed, and a decision taken that it is worthwhile to reveal something new.
"I'm anticipating a major announcement," said Jordan Kobritz, chair of the State University of New York at Cortland's International Sport Management graduate program, noting that Armstrong would otherwise have no reason to talk.
"You don't have to go on Oprah to do what he's been doing in his entire athletic life, and that is deny, deny and deny that he ever engaged in illegal drugs," Kobritz said, agreeing with Keane that perjury and criminal charges are possible.
One possibility is that justice officials in California will re-open a file they closed last year concerning alleged drug use and misuse of funds when Armstrong was with the US Postal Service team.
Another case that could come back to haunt the cyclist is an arbitration hearing in Dallas in 2005 where he said under oath that he had never taken banned substances, a statement which raises the specter of perjury charges.
But Armstrong's profile, albeit diminished, as a cancer survivor who raised awareness and hundreds of millions of dollars to fight the disease, is likely the chip that could spare him the worst possible outcome.
"Regardless of whether he comes out and makes a flat admission, I guarantee there will still be a majority of US citizens who will say 'I don't care what he did, he's still my hero,'" Kobritz said, citing Armstrong's cancer survival.
"Unless there's a prosecutor who wants to stake his reputation and his future political career," on putting Armstrong in the dock, "I suspect they're going to leave him alone," Kobritz added.
But Michael McCann, director of the sports law institute at Vermont Law School, said there could be an upside to speaking out, if not immediately then in the mid-term, even if that means going to jail beforehand for perjury.
"It wouldn't be five years, but it could be six months, any amount of time would be pretty bad," he said.
But there could be "a sense of coming clean, having a cleaner conscience... public forgiveness, and relief maybe," added McCann, who is soon to head up a new sports and entertainment law institute at the University of New Hampshire.
AUSTIN, Texas – Lance Armstrong confessed to Oprah Winfrey during an interview Monday that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France, 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.
Armstrong was stripped of all seven Tour titles last year following a voluminous U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that portrayed him as a ruthless competitor, willing to go to any lengths to win the prestigious race.
USADA chief executive Travis Tygart labeled the doping regimen allegedly carried out by the U.S. Postal Service team that Armstrong once led, "The most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."
After a federal investigation of the cyclist was dropped without charges being brought last year, USADA stepped in with an investigation of its own. The agency deposed 11 former teammates and accused Armstrong of masterminding a complex and brazen drug program that included steroids, blood boosters and a range of other performance-enhancers.
A group of about 10 close friends and advisers to Armstrong left a downtown Austin hotel about three hours after they arrived Monday afternoon for the taping. Among them were Armstrong attorneys Tim Herman and Sean Breen, along with Bill Stapleton, Armstrong's longtime agent, manager and business partner. All declined comment entering and exiting the session.
Soon afterward, Winfrey tweeted: "Just wrapped with (at)lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!" She was scheduled to appear on "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday to discuss the interview.
In a text to the AP on Saturday, Armstrong said: "I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I'll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That's all I can say."
Armstrong stopped at the Livestrong Foundation, which he founded, on his way to the interview and said, "I'm sorry" to staff members, some of whom broke down in tears. A person with knowledge of that session said Armstrong choked up and several employees cried during the session.
The person also said Armstrong apologized for letting the staff down and putting Livestrong at risk but he did not make a direct confession to using banned drugs. He said he would try to restore the foundation's reputation, and urged the group to continue fighting for the charity's mission of helping cancer patients and their families.
Armstrong spoke to a room full of about 100 staff members for about 20 minutes, expressing regret for everything the controversy has put them through, the person said. He told them how much the foundation means to him and that he considers the people who work there to be like members of his family. None of the people in the room challenged Armstrong over his long denials of doping.
Winfrey and her crew had earlier said they would film Monday's session at Armstrong's home. As a result, local and international news crews were encamped near the cyclist's Spanish-style villa before dawn.
Armstrong still managed to slip away for a run despite the crowds outside his home. He returned by cutting through a neighbor's yard and hopping a fence.