Millar fears Armstrong whitewash on Oprah

Reformed drug cheat David Millar fears Lance Armstrong’s appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show next week will be “stage-managed”.

Armstrong will break his silence over damning accusations of his drug doping on the Oprah show next Thursday but Millar, a member of the athletes’ commission for the World Anti-Doping Agency, said the American needs to come clean in a proper arena.

A spokeswoman for the Oprah show said Armstrong was not being paid to appear and that Winfrey was free to ask him any question she wanted.

Millar said: “Only Lance would get to have his moment of truth, if that’s what it will be, in front of Oprah Winfrey.

“It is not sitting in front of a judge or a disciplinary hearing being properly questioned about the things he has done wrong. I doubt very much it will be a proper interrogation.

“My biggest concern is that it will be completely stage-managed, that he will just be ‘given the ball’, and that it will all be about his emotions rather than concentrating on exactly what he did wrong.”

Millar himself served a two-year ban after admitting doping in 2004, since when he has become a campaigner against drugs in sport.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the International Cycling Union (UCI), following a report by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) which concluded the 41-year-old and his US Postal Service team had run “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.

The Oprah show will be Armstrong’s first formal interview since he was banned for life by the UCI, with the Oprah Winfrey Network claiming in a statement: “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 will take place at 2am Irish time on Friday, January 18 and is scheduled to last for 90 minutes.

The Oprah spokeswoman said in an email: “No payment for the interview. No editorial control, no question is off limits.”

It will come only hours after the full details are announced of the 2014 Tour de France’s Grand Depart in Yorkshire.

The New York Times claimed at the weekend that Armstrong was close to admitting to the damning findings of the 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.”

The producers are also unlikely to release the transcript of the show before it is screened.

Armstrong has always vehemently denied charges of doping and has never been proven to have tested positive.

An October 10 report from the USADA cited Armstrong’s involvement in a doping programme that involved anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and blood transfusions among other offences.

Less than two weeks later, Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories were nullified and he was banned from cycling for life after the UCI ratified the USADA’s sanctions against him. In November, Armstrong, a survivor of testicular cancer, stepped down as a board member of Livestrong, the cancer-support charity he founded in 1997.

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