Mixed reactions to suggestions that Armstrong may be prepared to admit to doping
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Saturday, January 05, 2013

Mixed reactions to suggestions that Armstrong may be prepared to admit to doping

by VeloNation Press at 7:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
New York Times says Texan is considering a confession in a bid to return to sport

Lance ArmstrongAfter denying for over a decade that he ever took banned substances, the prospect of a confession from Lance Armstrong appears to be moving a step closer. A report in the New York Times cites unnamed sources as saying that Armstrong has told anti-doping officials and associates that he might consider opening up about doping use if he can return to competition.

While Armstrong retired from cycling in early 2011, he went into triathlon and was aiming to compete in the 2012 world championships in Kona. That goal was made impossible when the US Anti Doping Agency handed him a lifetime ban last summer, with the weight of sworn testimony and evidence satisfying USADA that he had been involved in doping himself and also encouraging and coercing others to do the same.

Armstrong tried to get the USADA case blocked in the federal courts and when that was unsuccessful, he walked away without contesting the charges against him. He was given a lifetime ban from all WADA-affiliated competitive sports and also had all of his cycling titles since August 1998 stripped from him, including seven Tour de France titles.

The New York Times states that sources have told the paper that he is moving towards a public admission and has been in discussions with USADA. It states that he is seeking to meet with WADA’s director general David Howman.

Contacted by the paper, Armstrong’s lawyer Tim Herman was asked if he could admit to the usage of banned substances and methods. “Lance has to speak for himself on that,” he responded, but said that at this point in time, the option to confess was not on the table.

He denied that the former rider was talking to USADA’s CEO Travis Tygart, and that he wanted to speak to Howman.

Tygart declined to comment to the New York Times, while Howman told ESPN.com that no approach had been made as yet. However he said that he would be prepared to talk. “I would be open to any discussions. Never say never. … I'm prepared to listen to anybody,” he said from vacation in New Zealand.

“It's [USADA's] issue, although they could come to us to ask for guidance or advice,” he added.

Under the WADA code, penalties could be reduced when ‘substantial assistance’ is given. That would require Armstrong to speak truthfully about his situation and also to provide information on others who were also involved in the US Postal Service conspiracy.

The Armstrong/USADA case is currently being investigated by an external commission. It was set up by the UCI, but the governing body insists that it is fully independent from it. That commission is current sifting through evidence and statements given to it, and is due to deliver its final conclusion on or after June 1st of this year.

If Armstrong does indeed speak about his doping past to officials, additional evidence could be added to what the commission has gathered. One of the issues it is examining is if there is any substance to the claims by witnesses that Armstrong told them that the UCI had helped him escape sanction after a positive test for EPO in 2001.

The UCI has said that the rider provided a suspicious sample during the Tour de Suisse of that year, but denies that the levels were sufficient for a positive test, and also rejects claims that it protected the rider.

While Howman said that he didn’t want to speculate about a potential Armstrong confession, he said that the case was a far-reaching and important one.

“This is such a significant case with so many issues, and it has had a considerable effect not only on the sport of cycling but the world sports scene itself,” he said.

Issues affecting a possible confession:


The writer Daniel Coyle - who worked with Tyler Hamilton on his book detailing US Postal Doping - yesterday said via Twitter that he understood that a confession might be on the way, creating a discussion about the issue. Several individuals pointed out the obstacles to such an admission, including the possibility of perjury charges due to an earlier sworn denial, the current whistleblower suit being taken by Floyd Landis over the US Postal Service doping, and also two cases Armstrong is current facing.

He is facing civil lawsuits from the Sunday Times and SCA Promotions, two companies that he successfully sued in the past but who now feel that they have a strong case after his sanctioning for doping offences.

The combined total of costs and damages for the lawsuits would run into tens of millions of dollars, meaning that any confession would likely involve careful negotiations to lessen the financial cost to him.

As the New York Times points out, Armstrong would require assurances that he would not be prosecuted for perjury prior to opening up.

According to Herman, he will speak to Armstrong when the latter returns from Hawaii.

Meanwhile one of the former rider’s strongest critics, Betsy Andreu, has said that she would not support a confession.

“Does he think people are completely stupid?” she told the New York Daily News. “This guy is like a Mafia don. Will he apologize to all the people who wouldn’t lie for him? Will he compensate people for costing them jobs and businesses? How do you put a price on lost opportunities?”

She spoke of individuals such as ex pro Christophe Bassons and Armstrong’s former soigneur Emma O’Reilly, as well as three time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, saying they had all lost out considerably because of the Texan’s actions.

“Will he pay Christophe millions of dollars for forcing him out of the sport?” she said. “Will he compensate (Tour de France champion) Greg LeMond for ruining his bicycle business? Will he apologize to Emma (O’Reilly, Armstrong’s former masseuse) for calling her a prostitute? Forgiving doesn’t mean being a doormat. Being a Christian doesn’t mean allowing people to profit from their crimes.”

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