By Duncan Mackay

Lance Armstrong profileJanuary 9 - Lance Armstrong will appear in "no-holds-barred" interview, to be broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), later this month, fuelling growing speculation that the disgraced American cyclist is about to admit to his involvement in using banned performance-enhancing drugs. 

Winfrey, whose talk shows are the highest-rated in histroy, will speak exclusively with Armstrong in his first major appearance since he was banned for life by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. 

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 career, it is claimed on Winfrey's own website. 

The special 90-minute Thursday night episode of Oprah's Next Chapter will be broadcast on January 17 (9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT) on OWN, which is a joint venture between Winfrey's Harpo Productions and Discovery Channel, the headline sponsor of Armstrong's team between 2004 and 2007.

In addition-the interview, which will take place at Armstrong's home in Austin, will be simultaneously streamed live worldwide on

It has been claimed by the New York Times that Armstrong has already held preliminary discussions with USADA about the situation and is also seeking to talk to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

But some fear that Armstrong has targeted Winfrey for the interview because he knows that he will avoid really tough questioning.

Marion Jones with Oprah WinfreyOprah Winfrey interviewed another drugs cheat, Marion Jones, back in 2008 but failed to extract much information from her

Winfrey conducated a similar interview in October 2008 with Marion Jones in which she announced her retirement from athletics after completing a six-month prison sentence for lying to Government prosecutors about drug use,

Jones, who was stripped of the five Olympic medals she had won at Sydney in 2000, including three gold, insisted in the interview with Winfrey she believed she had never been given anything to take beyond legal vitamins and supplements.

Kathy LeMond, wife of the American three-time Tour de France winner Greg, who had publicly accused Armstrong of using drugs before he was banned, tweeted: "@Oprah I hope you get educated before the interview. I know people that can help you."

David Millar, a member of the Athletes' Commission at WADA, also has fears that the interview will be a whitewash.

"Only Lance would get to have his moment of truth, if that's what it will be, in front of Oprah Winfrey," said the Briton, who served a two years ban in 2004 after admitting using Erythropoietin (EPO).

"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 that concentrating on exactly what he did wrong."

Last night, the US current affairs programme 60 Minutes featured an interview with the USADA chief executive, Travis Tygart, in which he claimed that Armstrong offered the agency a donation of $250,000 (£156,000/€192,000) in 2004, which it turned down.

To read Jamie Fuller's blog "Hey Lance, if you're going to confess, you better do it right" click here.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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