Last week Lance Armstrong turned to media royalty to seek public acceptance of his admission of illegal drug use. Despite many denials over the years that his seven Tour De France titles were tainted, Lance took to the sofa with Oprah Winfrey to set the record straight.
Answering Oprah’s questions frankly and seemingly openly, the former champion cyclist admitted to taking testosterone and using blood transfusions to improve his chances of winning. However, his apology came with a qualification; everyone else was doing it and he justified the use of testosterone following his treatment for testicular cancer.
It also seems that while he was willing to admit to doping, there were certain accusations that he’s not ready to come clean about. Former teammate Tyler Hamilton, who set the ball rolling on Armstrong’s downfall, has said that he’s still lying. Armstrong categorically denies testing positive in 2001 following a Tour of Switzerland race and that the Union Cyclist International (UCI) helped cover up the result.
Although the UCI has been cleared of any involvement in a cover up, Hamilton claims that the cyclist told him that he had tested positive, but that he ‘would be OK’. The director of a Swiss drug-testing lab told the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) he was ordered by the UCI to meet with Armstrong and his team to tell them how to beat the test for blood booster EPO. Armstrong also denies offering the US Anti-Doping Agency a donation of $250,000, a claim made by the current boss of the USADA and his predecessor.
In the interview with Oprah, Armstrong said, “That story isn’t true. There was no positive test. There was no paying off of the lab. There was no secret meeting with the lab director.” When she asked if the UCI made a positive result go away, Armstrong responded: “No.”
Read the full story from The Age.
It was clear to most that Lance Armstrong’s decision to come clean to one of television’s most famous ‘confessors’, was just the first step for the shamed athlete to get back into competitive sport. The closely ‘choreographed’ admission did little to allay the public’s perception that Lance Armstrong was little more than a bully and a cheat.
Concerned only with absolving his own guilt, Armstrong gave no consideration to those whose lives he had wasted while on his megalomaniac campaign to be world’s best cyclist. During his interview, the cornered star even said he would cooperate in uncovering fellow cyclists who were suspected of doping.
While many will welcome the fact that the truth is finally out, there are those who have suffered financially for telling the truth about Lance’s doping. Masseuse Emma O’Reilly not only suffered a financial loss when Armstrong sued her in 2005 for claims she made in a book, she lost her credibility as a professional and suffered two and a half years of verbal abuse, during which time Armstrong called her an “alcoholic whore”. The UK’s Sunday Times is also seeking the return of the half million pounds, with interest, it paid in a settlement to Armstrong after printing that he used banned substances. Even the South Australian Government is coming under pressure to reveal how much it paid Armstrong to race in the Tour Down Under and to take action to recover the costs.
Then there are those who spoke out against Armstrong, only to have their claims denied during his Oprah interview. And let’s not forget those who may have been forced to cover up positive tests and drug taking; they must be experiencing sleepless nights waiting to see what will be revealed next.
And finally, the Livestrong charity, which does such excellent work for cancer survivors, thanks to its close association with the cyclist has not escaped unscathed from this drama.
Lance Armstrong is not the only professional cyclist to dope during his competitive years, but he is the highest profile star to come clean. And while he may be granted forgiveness, no one will forget the turmoil he has brought to the world of cycling. I doubt we have heard the last of Lance Armstrong and this is only the beginning of the saga.
Has your opinion of Lance Armstrong changed following his confession? Do you think he should be allowed to compete in cycling again?