Armstrong admits doping to win Tour de France 7 times: 'I'm a flawed character'
CHICAGO (AP) -- He did it. He finally admitted it. Lance Armstrong doped.
He was light on the details and didn't name names. He mused that he might not have been caught if not for his comeback in 2009. And he was certain his "fate was sealed" when longtime friend, training partner and trusted lieutenant George Hincapie, who was along for the ride on all seven of Armstrong's Tour de France wins from 1999-2005, was forced to give him up to anti-doping authorities.
But right from the start and more than two dozen times during the first of a two-part interview Thursday night with Oprah Winfrey on her OWN network, the disgraced former cycling champion acknowledged what he had lied about repeatedly for years, and what had been one of the worst-kept secrets for the better part of a week: He was the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme on a U.S. Postal Service team that swept him to the top of the podium at the Tour de France time after time.
"I'm a flawed character," he said.
Did it feel wrong?
Column: Live commentary on Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey
ARMSTRONG'S BIG TEST: Fallen sports icon Lance Armstrong's "no-holds-barred interview" with Oprah Winfrey is airing Thursday night on her OWN network. AP Sports Columnist John Leicester is watching the broadcast and giving his impressions of the interview as it unfolds:
The whole Armstrong narrative we've been fed -- and that reporters have been feeding -- for over a decade is unraveling before our eyes in this interview, which makes it riveting to watch. Winfrey isn't soft-gloving Armstrong as she did Marion Jones in an interview in 2008. She's well prepared, with a good grasp of the details. The new narrative Armstrong is telling us is that he was a long-time doper who saw taking drugs as just part of the job of winning bike races. He bullied critics. "We sued so many people." Again, these facts are not news to people who have followed his story and been on the receiving end of his lawyers' writs. But to hear it all from the horse's mouth is very dramatic. "I will spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust." Given the shocking scale of this fraud, one lifetime may not be enough.
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During TV interview, Armstrong acknowledges what he has lied about repeatedly for years: He doped.
US investigators, Boeing staff arrive in western Japan to inspect troubled 787
TOKYO (AP) -- An official with Japan's transport safety board says four U.S. officials, including two Boeing Co. representatives, have arrived at an airport in western Japan to inspect a 787 jet that made an emergency landing earlier this week.
The All Nippon Airways jet landed Wednesday morning at Takamatsu airport after the pilot smelled something burning and received a cockpit warning of battery problems.
The four Americans, including an investigator each from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, met with officials Friday from the Japan Transport Safety Board, which is leading the investigation, said Mamoru Takahashi, a JTSB official.
ANA and Japan Airlines, which together have 24 of the Boeing jets, have grounded the planes. The U.S., Europe, Qatar and India also have done so.
Algeria declares operation to free hostages over, toll remains unclear
ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) -- Algerian helicopters and special forces stormed a gas plant in the stony plains of the Sahara on Thursday to wipe out Islamist militants and free hostages from at least 10 countries. Bloody chaos ensued, leaving the fate of the fighters and many of the captives uncertain.
Dueling claims from the military and the militants muddied the world's understanding of an event that angered Western leaders, raised world oil prices and complicated the international military operation in neighboring Mali.
At least six people, and perhaps many more, were killed -- Britons, Filipinos and Algerians. Terrorized hostages from Ireland and Norway trickled out of the Ain Amenas plant, families urging them never to return.
Dozens more remained unaccounted for: Americans, Britons, French, Norwegians, Romanians, Malaysians, Japanese, Algerians and the fighters themselves.
A U.S. official said late Thursday that while some Americans escaped, other Americans remain either held or unaccounted for. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Some Aurora shooting victims boycott somber reopening ceremony at Colorado theater
AURORA, Colo. (AP) -- The Colorado theater where 12 people were killed and dozens injured in a shooting rampage last year reopened Thursday with a somber remembrance ceremony and a screening of the latest "Hobbit" film for survivors -- but the pain was too much, the idea too horrific, for many Aurora victims to attend.
"We as a community have not been defeated," Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan told victims, officials, and dozens of police officers and other first responders who filled half the theater's seats at the ceremony.
"We are a community of survivors," Hogan declared. "We will not let this tragedy define us."
Pierce O'Farrill, who was wounded three times in the shooting, said: "It's important for me to come here and sit in the same seat that I was sitting in. It's all part of the healing process, I guess."
O'Farrill walked to an exit door inside the theater where he remembers the shooter emerging. "The last time I saw (the gunman) was right here," he said.
In move that would avert default, House GOP may seek a short-term extension to debt limit
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) -- House Republicans may seek a quick, short-term extension of the government's debt limit, a move that would avoid an immediate default by the Treasury as the party seeks to maximize leverage in negotiations over spending cuts with President Barack Obama this spring, officials said Thursday.
"All options are on the table as far as we're concerned," Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said at a news conference during a three-day retreat of the rank and file. He said private discussions focused on how best to "achieve progress on controlling our deficits and controlling our debt."
Ryan declined to say how long an extension of the government's borrowing authority is under consideration, or what conditions might be attached. Obama has said repeatedly that he favors additional deficit savings yet he will not negotiate spending cuts as part of an agreement to raise the current $16.4 trillion debt limit. Some Republicans have suggested they may seek unspecified reforms rather than reductions, perhaps trying to force the Democratic-controlled Senate to approve a budget.
The debt limit is one of three deadlines that Congress and the administration will confront this spring. Across-the-board spending cuts begin in early March, and the government runs out of funding for many agencies and services on March 27. By contrast, there is no fixed date for raising the debt limit, since the Treasury has not yet notified Congress when it will exhaust all other measures to stay current with its bills.
Republicans gathered for their retreat at a secluded golf resort a two-hour-plus drive from the Capitol after an awkward beginning to the new Congress.
'Dear Abby' advice columnist, dead at 94, is remembered for a rapier wit and a deep compassion
NEW YORK (AP) -- Two men had recently bought a house together in the tiny San Francisco neighborhood of Nob Hill, and the neighbors were annoyed. The men were entertaining "a very suspicious mixture of people," the neighbors wrote into their paper's advice column, asking, "How can we improve the neighborhood?"
"You could move," Dear Abby replied.
That zinger was such classic Abby -- real name, Pauline Friedman Phillips -- that it moved her daughter to burst into laughter Thursday when reminded of it, even though she had just returned from the funeral of her mother, who died a day earlier at age 94 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.
"People weren't really talking about homosexuality back then," Jeanne Phillips, who now writes the famous syndicated column, said. "But you know, there wasn't a subject my mother wouldn't take on."
As the world said goodbye to Dear Abby on Thursday, the Web was full of her snappiest one-liners, responses to thousands of letters over the decades that she wrote in her daily column. But her admirers noted that behind the humor and wit was a huge heart, and a genuine desire to improve people's lives.
APNewsBreak: Detective says Robert Wagner not interviewed in new Natalie Wood investigation
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Robert Wagner has declined to be interviewed by detectives in a renewed inquiry into the drowning death of his wife Natalie Wood three decades ago, an investigator said Thursday.
Wagner was interviewed by authorities soon after Wood's drowning in 1981, but the actor is the only person who was on the yacht the night Wood died who has not spoken to detectives as part of the latest inquiry, despite repeated requests and attempts, sheriff's Lt. John Corina said.
Blair Berk, an attorney for Wagner and his family, said the actor had cooperated with authorities since his wife died.
Detectives began re-investigating the case in November 2011. Since then investigators have interviewed more than 100 people, but Wagner has refused and Corina said the actor's representatives have not given any reason for his silence.
The detective's remarks provided new insight into the case that has remained one of Hollywood's enduring mysteries. Earlier this week, coroner's officials released an updated autopsy report that had been under a security hold. It detailed why Wood's death had been reclassified from an accidental drowning to a drowning caused by "undetermined factors."
Notre Dame's Te'o spoke of his 'girlfriend' at least twice after learning she never existed
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Not once but twice after he supposedly discovered his online girlfriend of three years never even existed, Notre Dame All-American linebacker Manti Te'o perpetuated the heartbreaking story about her death.
An Associated Press review of news coverage found that the Heisman Trophy runner-up talked about his doomed love in a Web interview on Dec. 8 and again in a newspaper interview published Dec. 10. He and the university said Wednesday that he learned on Dec. 6 that it was all a hoax, that not only wasn't she dead, she wasn't real.
On Thursday, a day after Te'o's inspiring, playing-through-heartache story was exposed as a bizarre lie, Te'o and Notre Dame faced questions from sports writers and fans about whether he really was duped, as he claimed, or whether he and the university were complicit in the hoax and misled the public, perhaps to improve his chances of winning the Heisman.
Yahoo sports columnist Dan Wetzel said the case has "left everyone wondering whether this was really the case of a naïve football player done wrong by friends or a fabrication that has yet to play to its conclusion."
Gregg Doyel, national columnist for CBSSports.com, was more direct.