Britain's Sunday Times said on Sunday it had settled with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong after it was forced to pay damages over a report which suggested he had used banned substances.

The paper sued Armstrong for $1.55m last October when the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced it had "overwhelming" evidence of his drug use.

He later confessed to Oprah Winfrey that he had taken performance-enhancing substances.

The seven-time Tour de France winner was awarded £300,000 (now around $470,000) in 2006 after he sued the paper and journalists Alan English and David Walsh, the latter of whom almost single-handedly uncovered Armstrong's cheating.

Following the USADA announcement, the paper demanded the return of the money plus £720,000 costs and branded the libel "baseless and fraudulent".

The paper reported on Sunday that it, Walsh and English had "reached a mutually acceptable final resolution to all claims against Lance Armstrong related to the 2012 High Court proceedings and are entirely happy with the agreed settlement, the terms of which remain confidential".

Armstrong said he justified his actions in the years that he won the Tour from 1999 to 2005 because doping was then part of the culture of the sport - and he did not believe he could capture cycling's greatest race without illegal assistance.

He did not see it as cheating, he said, adding: "I viewed it as a level playing field."

He described his favoured "cocktail" of EPO, blood transfusions and testosterone, recalling that at the time, he told himself that his history of testicular cancer somehow justified it.

Source: AFP