Why d’you have to lie? Should’ve realised that you should’ve told the truth.
– John Lydon (Johnny Rotten, Sex Pistols), 1977
Here are some of my early thoughts regarding the first part of Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah*. However, first of all, you might like to view this montage of his greatest doping denials, courtesy of msn now.
Video has since been removed.
He has now publicly admitted to deliberately taking performance enhancing drugs since before his cancer diagnosis. Aside from the usual implications that this might have, there are more concerns in this instance due to the amount of success Lance has had – i.e. 7 consecutive Tour de France wins.
Indications suggest that these drugs could have caused (or at least enhanced the seriousness of) his cancer, which nullifies the fairytale of a cancer defeating Tour de France champion. Whatever the good that comes from the Livestrong charity, its origins are now tainted.
Lance refers to his current predicament (the ‘truth’ being unravelled) as being ‘out of his control’. The only other time he claims to have felt like this was when he had cancer, stating that he knew he was going to win the Tours. Surely part of the excitement of sport is in not knowing the outcome, and he would have been better applying his determination to succeed somewhere else, in business perhaps.
When asked about Betsy Andreu (former team-mate Frankie Andreu’s wife), who claims to have heard a confession in 1996, Lance refuses to answer. He also limits his comments regarding Michele Ferrari (the Doctor who supposedly helped facilitate the drugs and transfusions). There is still too much that he is controlling about what we know.
When asked about his donation to the UCI, he states that they were low on money, so approached him for help. While this seems possible (if the amount of speculation surrounding corruption in the UCI is true), it requires further investigation as it is certainly not a satisfactory response.
To gain the trust of someone who has lied will always be difficult and this instance is no different. There are currently a number of theories circulating, such as WADA reducing his lifetime ban to 8 years… and he has said the last time he doped was in 2005 (do the maths). I just hope that his genuine motive is for the long-term good of the sport.
This all needs resolving so that the sport can potentially move forward. No sport is without any controversy, but the UCI needs to ensure that the entire truth regarding this matter is discovered, so that people can regain their trust in cycling as a whole. Complete honesty (without secrets) from all parties is the only way this can happen.
However, I am also concerned that there is fairness. While Lance was the one who cheated most successfully, with the biggest rewards, he was not the only one to have cheated. Please do not reward Lance, or any of the teammates who testified against him, or anyone else associated with this mess, as it will not discourage similar behaviours. Giving some of those teammates 6 month bans during the winter is nonsensical. This is the only way that sport can become clean in the future.
*My comments are based upon the transcript from the bbc, having not yet seen the interview.