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Lance Armstrong: Cheater, Liar

Lance Armstrong

We won’t see the interview until later this week, but Lance Armstrong has apparently admitted to Oprah Winfrey something most everyone has assumed was true for a while now:

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey that is scheduled for broadcast on her network on Thursday, Lance Armstrong confessed that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, according to two people briefed on the interview, which was recorded Monday in Austin, Tex.

It is unclear, though, how forthcoming Armstrong was about his doping program, which the United States Anti-Doping Agency has said was part of the most sophisticated, organized and professional doping scheme in the history of sports. Armstrong, when reached by e-mail Monday, said he could not discuss the interview.

Acknowledging his doping past has cleared the way for Armstrong to take the next step in trying to mitigate his lifetime ban from Olympic sports. He is planning to testify against several powerful people in the sport of cycling who knew about his doping and possibly facilitated it, said several people with knowledge of the situation.

Armstrong, 41, is planning to testify against officials from the International Cycling Union, the worldwide governing body of cycling, about their involvement with doping in cycling, but he will not testify against other riders, according to the people familiar with his plans.

He is also in discussions with the United States Department of Justice to possibly testify in a federal whistle-blower case. That case involves the cycling team sponsored by the United States Postal Service, and Armstrong would testify against several of the team’s owners, including the investment banker Thom Weisel, and other officials, one person close to the situation said. That person did not want his name published because the case is still open.

Floyd Landis, one of Armstrong’s former teammates, filed the whistle-blower case in 2010 against Armstrong and other principals of the Postal Service team on which he and Armstrong competed together for several years. Landis claimed the team defrauded the government because its riders used performance-enhancing drugs in violation of its sponsorship contract.

Now Armstrong and possibly his longtime agent, Bill Stapleton, are seeking to repay several millions of dollars of the more than $30 million the Postal Service spent sponsoring the team, as part of their cooperation as witnesses in the case, said the person with knowledge of the matter. (CBS News first reported Armstrong was in talks to return money to the Postal Service.) The Department of Justice is considering whether to join the case as a plaintiff and is close to making that decision, the person said.

Armstrong, who for more than a decade vehemently denied doping, would be willing to testify against the cycling union officials and his former team’s officials because he badly wants to compete in triathlons and running events again. Last fall, he was barred from many of those events because they are sanctioned by organizations that follow the World Anti-Doping Code, the rules under which he is serving his lifetime ban. Armstrong said that lifetime ban was unfair.

He met with United States Anti-Doping Agency officials, including Travis Tygart, the agency’s chief executive, last month to discuss what he needed to do to mitigate his ban. Several people with knowledge of the discussions said Tygart would be willing to reduce Armstrong’s punishment if Armstrong would testify against the people who helped him dope. That would possibly include Pat McQuaid, the president of the cycling union, and Hein Verbruggen, who was the cycling union’s president from 1991 to 2005, a time when doping in the sport was rampant. Verbruggen, who is close with the International Olympic Committee president, Jacques Rogge, is also the cycling union’s honorary president and an honorary member of the I.O.C.

Depending on the extent of his admissions, Armstrong may also be subjecting himself to years of civil litigation from sponsors and others who paid him prize money based on his Tour de France and other victories. As for criminal liability, I’d suspect that there would be serious statute of limitations problems with any offense he could be charged with here in the United States, and I’m not sure whether there might be any foreign criminal liability here. Additionally, Armstrong could face problems related to a liable suit he settled with a British tabloid that had accused him of doping several years ago as well as from the various associates and others around him who he targeted over the years as the denials about doping became more and more implausible.

As for Armstrong himself, there really isn’t much to say. For an extended period of time he willfully and knowingly violated the rules of the sport he was participating in, lied about it, accepted money for victories he didn’t fairly earn, and destroyed the careers of those who tried to tell the truth about what was going on in the sport of cycling. He clearly wasn’t the only competitive cyclist that was engaged in these types of activities, but he was the most prominent and his behavior damages not only him but the entire sport he participated in. The fact that he’s only coming clean now so he can get a reprieve and begin competing in triathlons again suggests that, as far as Armstrong is concerned, this is still all about him.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rob in CT says:

    I see him differently than a lot of other cheats. He not only cheated, but he went on and on and on… endlessly, it seemed, about how he was clean and how any accusations against him were a horrible injustice, etc etc.

    F*ck this guy.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Most shocking news since Ricky Martin came out of the closet.

    Rob is spot on…this ass-hat lied and lied and lied…and only now is going to confess because he wants to run some Ironman Triathalons or something.

    F*ck this guy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  3. Rob in CT says:

    Also, I vaguely recall… didn’t he basically ruin or attempt to ruin some people who suggested he might be cheating?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Cheater, liar and a rat. He’s dragging others down with him. Just a class act all around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  5. electroman says:

    Yes, Rob. More like “almost everybody” than “some people”, though. He may be in a world of hurt now – one of his own making.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  6. C. Clavin says:

    I read all the affidavits when they came out.
    Missing was Sheryl Crow.
    I’d love to hear what she has to say about this douch-bag.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  7. anjin-san says:

    He can join Barry Bonds in Siberia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  8. rudderpedals says:

    Any shame in the interview? Are the apologies in this new interview conditional? Because nothing’s more sincere than the grudgingly given apology that applies only if you were offended.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  9. Geek, Esq. says:

    Yeah, turning rat is the worst part of this. One can argue that if everyone is following the same unwritten rules on doping (do it) that the playing field was level after all, etc.

    But, there’s never an excuse for turning into a rat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  10. Scott says:

    Isn’t he the poster boy for Ayn Rand objectivism? Self-centered, had his own interested first, the net of all his activity was positive?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  11. The Q says:

    I guess the next shoe to drop is that pro wrestling is not real and the fights are staged.

    You mean there was widespread doping in Cycling? Mitigate your suspensions by squealing on everybody else – that’s how Tygart got some of the riders to squeal on their fellow riders and now he’s getting Lance to do the same thing – squeal and get your suspension reduced so you can keep competing, just like Hamilton, Hincapie et al all did so they could get back into racing.

    Its a farce. Who gives a shite. Lance is scamming bunko artist plain and simple and LIvestrong was the equivalent of Hitler making the trains run on time and curing unemployment, laudable goals but not at the expense of the Holocaust.

    Lance will plead for forgiveness and point to his charity and all will be forgotten.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Franklin says:

    I know people who have been helped by his foundation, and still held out some hope that he was innocent. So it hurts them, mostly. I don’t really care if he rats other lying a-holes out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. Ben says:

    I don’t give 2 craps and a damn about Lance, his titles, cycling, or his self-benefiting foundation. What I do care about is the many score of individuals bullied, sued and financially ruined when they dared to call him out on this crap over the course of his career. This man ruined several lives to protect his own stupid name and livelihood. For that, he is an awful human being who will get his due someday.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  14. ernieyeball says:

    @Ben: For that, he is an awful human being who will get his due someday.

    What makes you so sure?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. legion says:

    I don’t believe Lance did anything that wasn’t also done by a significant number of other cyclists at his level, for a very long time. But he pushed both himself and the system to be the world-record number-one guy. That brings with it a whole ton of minute observation and, like it or not, a higher standard. His main complaint – now that he’s stopped denying things – seems to be that he shouldn’t be singled out for punishment. But when you win 7 Tours de France, you single yourself out. I fail to sympathize with his pain…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. Ben says:

    @ernieyeball:

    I’m not. It’s called hope. If not a hope in some sort of karma or divine justice, then at least the hope that the wreckage he left behind will sue his ass into destitution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. ernieyeball says:

    @Ben: I suspect this:

    sue his ass into destitution.

    Is far more reality based than this:

    some sort of karma or divine justice…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  18. john personna says:

    Lance fooled me, but do you know who really got the short end of the stick? That would be Greg LeMond, former (and first) American Tour de France winner. He called out Armstrong, and the reaction was so strong, people were so sure Greg was being venal, that it killed LeMond’s brand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. Davebo says:

    Number of cancer research grants awarded by Livestrong in the past 6 years? (0)

    Number of dollars Lance made off Livestrong.com (versus Livestrong.org) A ton…

    Anyone who’s ever met Lance knows he’s a prick with ears.

    Just add fraud to the cheater, liar list.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. Seerak says:

    @Scott:

    Judging from the fact that everything in his life is being destroyed, I’d say no. But then I know a whacked-out caricature of something when I see it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. bill says:

    ironic that they could never prove that he cheated, especially when it seems everyone was cheating. i don’t feel cheated though- never bought into that stupid livestrong bracelet wearing crowd of self absorbed retreads. hero worship is over rated, and will always lead to disappointment. imagine how disappointed clavin was when ricky martin came out! that was a good line clavin, made me laugh!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. wr says:

    @The Q: “Lance is scamming bunko artist plain and simple and LIvestrong was the equivalent of Hitler making the trains run on time and curing unemployment, laudable goals but not at the expense of the Holocaust.”

    Plain and simple? No, he was one of the greatest cyclists in the history of the sport. Yeah, he used some drugs to help — and apparently so did everyone else. He lied, he cheated, he did all these terrible things, it’s absolutely true. He was also the best. You don’t have to deny the one to affirm the other.

    As for the Hitler thing… yeah, way to keep perspective there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Hal 10000 says:

    What bothers me more than the cheating are the vendettas he carried out against people we now know were telling the truth. He blasted them in the media, sued one for libel, vilified them whenever possible.

    Cheating is one thing, especially in a sport where everyone was cheating. But the arrogance that he showed in proclaiming his innocence is what I keep thinking about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  24. Irkitated says:

    I don’t admire drug cheats. Anti-doping agencies are there to make sure that there is a fair and level playing field for all competitors. I fully support the efforts of the anti-doping bodies in stamping out the use of drugs in sport. Using performance enhancing drugs in a drug free sport is cheating, plain and simple, and nobody likes a cheat.

    Lets be honest for a second here though. Who doesn’t want to see a man run 100 meters in 3.7 seconds or clear a 17 meter high jump? It would be brilliant entertainment! I am sure more people would watch badminton if the shuttlecock was flying back and forth at 150 kph, and soccer would be much more entertaining if the goalkeeper had a slight chance of being decapitated by a Lionel Messi Free Kick.

    Read full post about drugs in sport here http://irkitated.blogspot.com/2013/01/lance-armstrong-admits-is-drug-cheat.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Rafer Janders says:

    OK, yes, Lance Armstrong doped, cheated, and lied about it.

    But didn’t the other racers? Didn’t the other teams? What’s important to remember here is that Both Sides Did It.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  26. ernieyeball says:

    @Rafer Janders: Both Sides Did It.

    The quintessential “level playing field”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. de stijl says:

    @Hal 10000:

    What bothers me more than the cheating are the vendettas he carried out against people we now know were telling the truth.

    This is the crux. He willfully pitched his friends and colleagues under the bus, and because he had the yellow jerseys, his word carried more “truth” than those he accused.

    Arguendo, his doping in the era he cycled makes him tragic.

    If he had just doped, I might accept that argument. Had he doped and not tried his best to personally and professionally ruin those that accused him, I could maybe feel a smidgen of compassion.

    But he did not do that. He did the opposite of that. He did whatever it would take to destroy everyone that tried to tell the truth. Reputation, livelihood – all of it was available for exploitation for his purposes.

    @Rob in CT:

    F*ck this guy.

    Ayup.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. de stijl says:

    @Irkitated:

    Lets be honest for a second here though. Who doesn’t want to see a man run 100 meters in 3.7 seconds or clear a 17 meter high jump? It would be brilliant entertainment!

    Seeing a contest decided by who had their DNA optimally tweaked 15 – 20 years ago and who had the best doping program 8 years ago and 12 months ago and 2 days ago seems particularly uninteresting. It’s F1 with a human chassis and a robot driver – who has the best biotech? No one looks back at 1975 Soviet bloc athletes as people to be emulated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  29. Rob in CT says:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/01/the-small-petty-fraudulent-vendettas-of-lance-armstrong/267184/

    Again, it’s not just the cheating. I’m actually not puritanical about drugging by athletes. Especially once a sport is already infested with it, the temptation must be huge. I can forgive that, at least somewhat. But smearing people for calling you on it is another thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  30. grumpy realist says:

    Maybe we should just forget about trying to keep drugs out of sports and split the fields into non-enhanced and enhanced versions. If it’s discovered that you were drugging while you’re in the non-enhanced sector, you get (forcibly) moved over into the enhanced sector and don’t get to move back.

    I figure that the real pill-poppers will kill themselves off at an early age. Darwin in action.

    (I’m cynical, because it seems to me that it gets down to a splitting-hairs distinction whether what you are doing is “taking drugs” or simply cargo-loading/ephedra tea/NOX-loading/whatever’s the latest fad de jour.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  31. Argon says:

    He’s the Mitt Romney of sports.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1