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Lance Armstrong must confess under oath to have ban reduced, World Anti-Doping Agency says

MONTREAL The World Anti-Doping Agency says Lance Armstrong must confess under oath to seek a reduction in his lifetime ban from sports for doping during seven Tour de France victories.

WADA says it "read with interest media reports suggesting a television 'confession' made by Lance Armstrong" to talk show host Oprah Winfrey on Monday.

Winfrey appeared on "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday to talk about the Armstrong interview, saying that both parties had agreed not to speak publicly about it until the interview aired, but "by the time I left Austin and landed in Chicago you all had already confirmed it."

Winfrey described Armstrong as "forthcoming" in the interview and while he "did not come clean in the manner that I expected," she said she was "satisfied by the answers."

Armstrong reportedly hopes to return to competition in recognized triathlon events.

However, WADA says "only when Mr. Armstrong makes a full confession under oath - and tells the anti-doping authorities all he knows about doping activities - can any legal and proper process for him to seek any reopening or reconsideration of his lifetime ban commence."

The agency says athletes must pass on details of performance-enhancing drug use "to the relevant anti-doping authorities."

Meanwhile, the International Cycling Union urged Armstrong to testify before its independent commission on doping to shed light on allegations that include whether the UCI helped cover up his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Cycling's governing body said it was aware of media reports that Armstrong had confessed to doping during his interview with Winfrey.

"If these reports are true, we would strongly urge Lance Armstrong to testify to the Independent Commission established to investigate the allegations made against the UCI in the recent USADA reasoned decision on Lance Armstrong and the United States Postal Service (USPS) team," the federation said in a statement.

Armstrong lost all seven Tour titles 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."

In a recent "60 Minutes Sports" interview, Tygart described 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.

The UCI said it would not make any further comment until it has viewed the interview, which is to be broadcast on Thursday night.

The UCI set up an independent panel in November to investigate the Armstrong case and what role the governing body had in the scandal. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency raised suspicions of UCI collusion with Armstrong in its report that led to the cyclist being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life.

The UCI has been accused of covering up suspicious samples from Armstrong, accepting financial donations from him and helping him avoid detection in doping tests. Armstrong is reportedly considering testifying against UCI officials.

Former UCI President Hein Verbruggen said Tuesday he wasn't ready to speak about the Armstrong case.

"I haven't seen the interview. It's all guessing," Verbruggen told the AP. "After that, we have an independent commission which I am very confident will find out the truth of these things."

The three-member commission is chaired by retired British judge Philip Otton. He is working alongside Australian lawyer Malcolm Holmes and Tanni Grey-Thompson, a 10-time Paralympic gold medalist in wheelchair racing who is now a lawmaker in the upper chamber of Britain's Parliament. The panel will meet in London from April 9-26, with a June 1 deadline to deliver its report.

The cycling body has said the three will have access to "all relevant documents in the control or possession of the UCI," including bank and telephone records and laboratory test results.

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