Friday, January 18, 2013

Lance Armstrong Comes Clean on Oprah

"From day one, we always hoped this investigation would bring to a close this troubling chapter in cycling's history and we hope the sport will use this tragedy to prevent it from ever happening again," USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement in October."
In October, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released more than 1,000 pages of evidence in doping allegations against Armstrong and his teammates. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in the scandal. On Thursday, the International Olympic Committee demanded that he give back the bronze medal he won in 2000.

The charges against Armstrong are all too common in the cycling world. Cyclist Floyd Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after failing a drug test. Eighty percent of the Tour de France medalists between 1996 and 2010 have been "similarly tainted by doping," according to the USADA report on Armstrong.

Armstrong, in the first part of the interview, talked about the culture of cycling at the time he competed, telling Winfrey that doping was widespread then and just as much "part of the job" as water bottles and tire pumps. The former cyclist said he didn't view using banned drugs then as cheating. "I viewed it as a level playing field."

Armstrong described his years of denial as "one big lie that I repeated a lot of times." He had races to win and a fairy tale image to keep up.

He reminisced on his storied past of being a hero who overcame cancer, winning the Tour repeatedly, having a happy marriage, children. "It's just this mythic, perfect story, and it isn't true," he said.

Livestrong has not emerged from the scandal unscathed, with Armstrong forced to step down from his role as chairman. The Texan's battle with cancer led him to set up the Livestrong foundation in 1997, which according to its website has raised close to $500 million in the battle against the disease.

The USADA, which tests Olympic athletes for performance-enhancing drugs, similarly described the interview as a "small step in the right direction."

"If he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities," USADA CEO Travis Tygart said.

In closing her interview, Winfrey asked Armstrong a question that left him perplexed.

“Will you rise again?” she said.

Armstrong said: “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s out there.”

Then, as the interview drew to a close, Armstrong said: “The ultimate crime is the betrayal of these people that supported me and believed in me.”

More information:
» CNN: "The Claims, The Attacks, The Legacy"
» CNN: Criminal Charges Unlikely

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