12 months ago the Lance Armstrong myth came crashing down when the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) found the Texan guilty of being the centrepiece of the most “sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.”

He lost all his results from 1998 onwards, was banned from the sport for life, and was told publicly by then UCI President Pat McQuaid that he had “no place in cycling.”

One year on, Armstrong has begun to make his first attempts at resuscitating his career and reputation. But can Lance be forgiven? And should Lance be forgiven?

“It’s certainly possible for him to rehabilitate his image, and he’s definitely planning that,” says Reed Albergotti, reporter with the Wall Street Journal and co-author of Wheelmen, a book released last week charting the Armstrong story.

“Before [the USADA report] there had always been some reasonable doubt in the minds of most Americans and they were willing to give Lance the benefit of the doubt no matter what.

“Even after the report there were still people saying, ‘I don’t think he did it.’ That gives you some sense of how willing people were to ignore all the facts. That tells you something. “Even now I don’t think he’s considered the ultimate villain, but I think he has to start accepting the reality.

“The thing that he doesn’t have, which [disgraced] athletes like Tiger Woods have, is that he can’t get out there and start competing again. So it has to be all about his personality, and that needs to change, and that will be difficult for him.”

“I think it’s not good,” says David Epstein, journalist for Pro Publica and former investigative reporter for Sports Illustrated. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen him being quiet when there’s a fight coming up, so I don’t think there is going to be any attempt at a public image change for quite a while.

“For a while I thought he was going to do anything he could to get back to competing again. From my experience talking to people around him, he truly, truly really badly wanted to continue competing in triathlon. I thought he was going to do whatever it took.

“Then when USADA asked him to come to the table [and give evidence] he didn’t do it. I think that’s over and I think he’s a bit of a pariah.

“I think the only thing that could make a difference with the public is if he, in some very public way, goes to Emma O’Reilly [former US Postal soigneur] and Betsy Andreu [wife of former US Postal rider Frankie Andreu], those people specifically, and makes some sort of display of contrition to each individual.”

“From all accounts of the teammates around him I’ve spoken to, he doesn’t feel pressure the same way most people do. I think he’s ok to deal with criticism.

“Yet he used to be on bike rides and people would join him everywhere, just wanting to be around him. That has really fallen off, that’s a big dip in the positive attention and reinforcement you get. I do think he’s going to want that again.”

One Year On

The October 24 issue of Cycling Weekly includes a full report on Lance Armstrong one year on, featuring interviews, analysis, reviews and more

Related Links:
The Armstrong Lie Film

Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!

  • Roy

    Where do you draw the line? Armstrong got a lifetime ban, while all other cheats get 2 years? The main aim of the UCI should be to protect clean riders and the image of the sport and this i believe is best done by giving lifetime bans to dopers.

  • Steven Ostrofsky

    Were his titles stripped because he doped, or because he was a rotten person? I totally agree with stripping titles from dopers, and as soon as Tom Simpson, Eric Zabel, Jan Ulrich, Marco Pantani, Richard Virenque, Ivan Basso, countless Belgians, Spaniards and Dutchmen, and the entire East German Olympic teams of the 60s, 70s and 80s lose theirs, it will be legitimate to strip Armstrong’s. We can’t just strip titles because he was an aggressive rat, otherwise Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx – The Badger and The Cannibal (they didn’t earn those nicknames for being nice guys), will lose theirs. That’s the problem with rules and laws, they can’t just be bent because we don’t like a particular individual.

  • Samuel Gee

    No I don’t think we can forgive him. The cheating was only a small part of it and in fact the most forgiveable part because road racing was what it was back then. I have forgiven other former cheats especially if they have made an effort to put it behind them and assist a clean sport. Millar comes to mind in this regard.

    But Lance not only did that he bribed people trashed their reputations, used lawyers and threats to shut down critics and hid behind a cancer charity using it as a moral shield.

    I’m one of those that used to think he was clean and that the critics were misanthropes and partly because Lance was such a believable guy and because of the whole line about the pain being nothing compared to cancer.

    Those are the bits that can’t be forgiven. The drug stuff is run of the mill or was back in the day. That you could forgive but not the nasty stuff.

  • peter leech

    I agree with G I Williams , He was a gifted cyclist, and are we all hippocrits for watching him when he rode and we love it .


    I don’t understand why people read books by Tyler Hamilton or any of the other so called journalists,i don’t.They just want to make money on the backs of Armstrong,you can rest assured that fiction will come and play a part in any text.
    I can forgive Armstrong,we appear to forgive the rest of the so called dopers.I can accept and like the rest of you guys held him up as an icon,but that does not mean that the other whistleblowers should be treated like heroes,they are certainly not that.
    No one knows what really went on,and some of the so called people who are claiming it was terrible were financially rewarded at the time,are they giving any of there ill gotten gains back?
    If Lemond thinks Lance should go to jail then he must have a narrow opinion of what constitutes a criminal.I think we should move on and give him a break,and the rest of the ex cyclists and the like should move on and give us a break.

  • Anthony Leon Cruz Rodriguez

    Tylor Hamilton and Floyd Landis make me sick, trying to play this image of being bullied.. No one can force you to do anything. They are grown men, they made a choice just like Lance did. Americans don’t even care about cycling so they should just get over it. If the USADA Rules were implemented in American Baseball,Football,MMA,Boxing,Basketball more then half the players would be busted. I guess my question is, why did Betsy Andreu get involved with this in the first place? Lance is definitely a talented rider, Even with the EPO there is no way he won all those tours just because of doping. Jan Ullrich says give him back his titles and that was his biggest rival. They all were doping, the whole peleton, that’s why they can’t give the titles to anyone else.
    Trek, Bontrager, Shimano, US Postal, Discovery, Oakley, Nike, the list goes on.. Made Millions and Millions off of lance but you don’t hear them complaining.

  • Gordon Riley

    I’ve often wondered if LA is an example of a “successful psychopath” … the following article is a bit heavy going but reading it reminds me of many of his traits.

  • David Roberts

    Absolutely not, no way, not ever. I have the same contempt for him as that in which he obviously held the sport and his fellow riders. From my collection of cycling books every one about him has gone in the bin except David Walsh’s ‘Seven deadly sins’ and that is one of the most depressing reads I have ever had. I could go on……!!

  • Bill

    Finished the book! Assuming Accuracy (which it looks truthstrong!)

    You sleep in the bed you made! Unless you had zero free choice, you accept the actions. Compassion says, thanks for your effort towards Cancer, hope the foundation does well moving forward without you, because the foundation is not about the founder. I just cannot fathom 12 years of lies and the ability not to know right from wrong by an individual, group of people, or Multimillion dollar companies. I think as a whole the human race is much better than this 12 year bicycle race and all who contributed to it. BL: if not caught Li estrong would still be in motion.

  • gg/gg

    Draw a line in the sand then go away and stop giving him publicity.

  • Anthony Slack

    I’m less interested in forgivness than reconcilliation. It’s easy and appropriate to forgive. Reconcilliation is something different. At least without contrition. Participate FULLY and unconditionally in the truth required by cycling, and reconciliation is possible. That’s what I’d be hoping for. I agree with all of those that point out LA has been made an example of, when he has done little more than a great many others, except getting caught! If he wants reconcilliation (which is what I think he seeks), then he has to pay the ultimate price – honesty!

  • mynameisfroomeiwillwinnextyear’stour

    To some extent

  • G.J. Williams

    I read all of his books, watched pretty much every stage he ever rode in Le Tour and I wear a pair of his Nike cycling shoes! For me having read Tyler Hamilton’s book he was the best cheat in a peloton of cheats, that was the era he rode in.
    If he spoke to and apologised to those people close to him I think many Americans will forgive him. The French media have always and rightly so labelled him a cheat so I think he will never be forgiven by many people in cycling.
    I still believe he was a supernaturally gifted cyclist with an incredible will to win by whatever means. I think we should allow him to enjoy his retirement in peace, he never killed anyone he just rode a bike.

    G.J. Williams

  • Mike

    Forgive a cheat? If they accept there cheating, name there PED sources and take a strong anti doping stance, probably.

    Forgive someone who cheated,lied, bullied anyone who spoke against them, and used there wealth and power to somehow have at least two positive tests buried? No, Forgive someone who was forewarned of doping tests and was able to have the time to flush the products out of there system? No. Forgive someone who used a charity to help mask his wrongdoing and felt the need to make a media scrum out of his “Confession” on a prime time chat show? Never.

    I think Lances personality disorder means that he views any publicity as a personal victory. The only punishment that would hurt would be if he was ignored by the public and the media.

  • Pete Foden

    NO,no chance. Armstrong is still playing his game and until the whole saga is out in the open then he has to stay out in the cold. He needs to reveal all,everything in detail. His arrogance and his attitude towards the whole story seems to amuse him. His excuse was that everyone was doing it,no excuse.No one forced him,yet he forced others. Sad individual.

  • Ken Evans

    What has he done to earn forgiveness ? Appeared on a TV talk-show ?

  • Euan Rennie

    Not a chance.