Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

January 16, 2013

Armstrong: Watch interview, decide for yourself

Lance Armstrong said Wednesday that viewers can judge for themselves how candid he was in his interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“I left it all on the table with her and when it airs the people can decide,” he said in a text message to The Associated Press.

Armstrong responded to a report in the New York Daily News, citing an unidentified source, that he was not contrite when he acknowledged during Monday’s taping with Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

He’s also held conversations with U.S. anti-doping officials, touching off speculation that the team leader who demanded loyalty from others soon may face some very tough choices himself: whether to cooperate and name those who aided, knew about or helped cover up a sophisticated doping ring that Armstrong ran on his tour-winning U.S. Postal Service squads.

“I have no idea what the future holds other than me holding my kids,” he said.

Armstrong’s interview with Winfrey won’t begin airing until Thursday night, but already some people want to hear more — under oath — before he’s allowed to compete again in elite triathlons, a sport he returned to after retiring from cycling in 2011. In addition to stripping him of all seven of his Tour de France titles last year, anti-doping officials banned Armstrong for life from sanctioned events.

“He’s got to follow a certain course,” David Howman, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said. “That is not talking to a talk-show host.”

Former teammate Frankie Andreu, one of several riders Armstrong cast aside on his ride to the top of the sport, said no one is better-suited to provide anti-doping authorities with a blueprint for cleaning up the sport.

“Lance knows everything that happened,” Andreu told the AP. “He’s the one who knows who did what because he was the ringleader. It’s up to him how much he wants to expose.”

World Anti-Doping Agency officials said nothing short of “a full confession under oath” would even cause them to reconsider the ban. Although Armstrong admitted to Winfrey on Monday that he used performance-enhancing drugs, Howman said that is “hardly the same as giving evidence to a relevant authority.” The International Cycling Union also urged Armstrong to tell his story to an independent commission it has set up to examine claims that the sport’s governing body hid suspicious samples, accepted financial donations, and helped Armstrong avoid detection in doping tests.

Winfrey wouldn’t detail what Armstrong said during their interview at a downtown Austin hotel. In an appearance on “CBS This Morning,” she said she was “mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers.” What had been planned as a 90-minute broadcast will be shown as a two-part special, Thursday and Friday, on Winfrey’s OWN network.

The lifetime ban was imposed after a 1,000-page report by USADA last year outlined a complex, long-running doping program led by Armstrong. The cyclist also lost nearly all of his endorsements and was forced to cut ties with the Livestrong cancer charity he founded in 1997. The damage to Armstrong’s reputation was just as severe.

The report portrayed him as well-versed in the use of a wide range of performance-enhancers, including steroids and blood boosters such as EPO, and willing to exploit them to dominate. Nearly a dozen teammates provided testimony about that drug regimen, among them Andreu and his wife, Betsy.

“A lot of it was news and shocking to me,” Andreu said. “I am sure it’s shocking to the world. There’s been signs leading up to this moment for a long time. For my wife and I, we’ve been attacked and ripped apart by Lance and all of his people, and all his supporters repeatedly for a long time. I just wish they wouldn’t have been so blind and opened up their eyes earlier to all the signs that indicated there was deception there, so that we wouldn’t have had to suffer as much.

“And it’s not only us,” he added, “he’s ruined a lot of people’s lives.”

Armstrong was believed to have left for Hawaii. The street outside his Spanish-style villa on Austin’s west side was quiet the day after international TV crews gathered there hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Meanwhile, members of his legal team mapped out a strategy on how to handle at least two pending lawsuits against Armstrong, and possibly a third.

Former teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, alleges in one of the lawsuits that Armstrong defrauded the U.S. government by repeatedly denying he used performance-enhancing drugs. The False Claims Act lawsuit could require Armstrong to return substantial sponsorship fees and pay a hefty fine. The AP reported earlier Tuesday that Justice Department officials were likely to join the whistleblower lawsuit before a Thursday deadline.

Jim Litke reported from Chicago, Jim Vertuno from Austin, Texas. Stephen Wilson in London and John L. Mone in Dearborn, Mich., also contributed to this report.

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