Former cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping last October, is said to be considering admitting publicly that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his disgraced cycling career.
Lance Armstrong, 41, is reported to have told anti-doping officials that he will make a public admission of guilt in the hope than he can persuade them to restore his eligibility to compete in triathlons, which have replaced cycling as his sporting passion.
For more than a decade, Lance Armstrong has vehemently denied ever doping, even after anti-doping officials laid out their case against him last October in a report which accused him of running “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”.
All Lance Armstrong’s results from August 1, 1998 were expunged from the record books, including his seven consecutive Tour de France “wins” from 1999 to 2005, and he was banned from cycling for life.
Up until now Lance Armstrong has refused to cooperate with the investigation and has consistently denied wrongdoing, but he has been under pressure from various fronts to confess.
Wealthy supporters of Livestrong, the charity he founded after surviving testicular cancer, have been trying to persuade him to come forward so he could clear his conscience and save the organization from further damage.
Lance Armstrong is said to be considering admitting publicly that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his cycling career
According to The New York Times, Lance Armstrong has been in discussions with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and met the agency’s chief executive, Travis Tygart, in an effort to mitigate the lifetime ban he received for playing a lead role in doping on his Tour-winning teams.
Lance Armstrong is also seeking to meet with David Howman, the director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Since quitting cycling, Lance Armstrong has hopes of competing in triathlons and running events, but those competitions are often sanctioned by organizations that adhere to the World Anti-Doping Code, under which Lance Armstrong received his lifetime ban.
According to the code, an athlete might be eligible for a reduced punishment if he fully confesses and details how he doped, who helped him dope and how he got away with doping.
Lance Armstrong has been keeping a low profile since doping revelations ruined his once illustrious career and reputation.
In November he was spotted canoeing in the warm Pacific waters just off Hawaii. The holiday island has become a regular destination for Lance Armstrong to seek refuge, as he throws himself into training for Ironman Triathlon events.
An Ironman Triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and without a break. Most Ironman events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong’s team ran “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme the sport has ever seen” according to a report by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
USADA says it will deliver the full report in the doping case against Lance Armstrong, 41, later on Wednesday.
It contains testimony from 11 of his former US Postal Service team-mates.
Lance Armstrong has always denied doping allegations but has not contested USADA’s charges.
USADA chief executive Travis T. Tygart said there was “conclusive and undeniable proof” of a team-run doping conspiracy.
The organisation will send a “reasoned decision” in the Armstrong case to the International Cycling Union (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the World Triathlon Corporation.
The UCI now has 21 days to lodge an appeal against USADA’s decision with WADA or they must comply with the decision to strip Armstrong, who now competes in triathlons, of his seven Tour de France titles and hand him a lifetime ban.
Lance Armstrong ran the most sophisticated doping program in cycling history
Lance Armstrong, who overcame cancer to return to professional cycling, won the Tour from 1999 to 2005. He retired in 2005 but returned in 2009 before retiring for good two years later.
In his statement, Travis T. Tygart said the evidence against Lance Armstrong and his team – which is in excess of 1,000 pages – was “overwhelming” and “and includes sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team and its participants’ doping activities”.
Travis T. Tygart revealed it contains “direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirm the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding”.
He also claimed the team’s doping conspiracy “was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices”.
Among the former team-mates of Lance Armstrong’s to testify were George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for failing a dope test and was recently found guilty in a Swiss court of defaming the International Cycling Union for alleging they had protected Lance Armstrong from doping claims.
Travis T. Tygart said: “The riders who participated in the USPS Team doping conspiracy and truthfully assisted have been courageous in making the choice to stop perpetuating the sporting fraud, and they have suffered greatly.
“I have personally talked with and heard these athletes’ stories and firmly believe that, collectively, these athletes, if forgiven and embraced, have a chance to leave a legacy far greater for the good of the sport than anything they ever did on a bike.
“Lance Armstrong was given the same opportunity to come forward and be part of the solution. He rejected it.
“Instead he exercised his legal right not to contest the evidence and knowingly accepted the imposition of a ban from recognised competition for life and disqualification of his competitive results from 1998 forward.”
USADA confirmed that two other members of the US Postal Service team, Dr. Michele Ferrari and Dr. Garcia del Moral, also received lifetime bans for their part in the doping conspiracy.
Three further members, team director Johan Bruyneel, a team doctor Dr. Pedro Celaya and team trainer Jose Marti, have chosen to contest the charges and take their cases to arbitration.
Travis T. Tygart also called on the UCI to “act on its own recent suggestion for a meaningful Truth and Reconciliation programme”.
“Hopefully, the sport can unshackle itself from the past, and once and for all continue to move forward to a better future,” he added.