By Julien Pretot
PARIS, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The International Cycling Union (UCI) would welcome Lance Armstrong in a truth and reconciliation commission for the sport following the American's confession that he doped to win his seven Tour de France titles.
Armstrong ended years of denial on Thursday by admitting to chat show host Oprah Winfrey that he had used banned, performance-enhancing drugs.
"The UCI welcomes Lance Armstrong's decision finally to come clean and to confess to using performance-enhancing drugs, in the first part of his interview with Oprah Winfrey," UCI President Pat McQuaid said in a statement on Friday.
"We note that Lance Armstrong expressed a wish to participate in a truth and reconciliation process, which we would welcome."
McQuaid also said Armstrong's decision to finally confront his past "is an important step forward on the long road to repairing the damage that has been caused to cycling and to restoring confidence in the sport."
The UCI annulled Armstrong's results from August 1998 after a report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) suggested the American took performance-enhancing drugs.
In his interview with Winfrey, Armstrong also denied the UCI had covered up a positive test from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland saying: "That story isn't true. There was no positive test. No paying off of the lab. The UCI did not make that go away."
"Lance Armstrong has confirmed there was no collusion or conspiracy between the UCI and Lance Armstrong," McQuaid said in the statement.
"There were no positive tests which were covered up and he has confirmed that the donations made to the UCI were to assist in the fight against doping."
Armstrong also said the UCI had "asked" for a $100,000 donation he made in 2002, a point the governing body did not address in the statement.
"However, Lance Armstrong also rightly said that cycling is a completely different sport today than it was 10 years ago," the statement said.
"In particular the UCI's introduction of the biological passport in 2008 - the first sports federation to do so - has made a real difference in the fight against doping." (Editing by Peter Rutherford)