Lance Armstrong, according to insiders, continued to lie in his Oprah Winfrey interview on Thursday and Friday. He denied that he attempted to donate $250,000 [£155,000] to the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), despite its chiefs reporting otherwise.
“No,” Armstrong told Winfrey, “that is not true.”
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The question came on night two of the two part interview, Armstrong’s first since USADA proved him a drug cheat and stripped him of his seven Tour de France wins.
Armstrong admitted to doping and said that he has to apologise to many people. He refused to name names and provide details, and Winfrey failed to press him.
“I don’t want to accuse anybody else,” Armstrong said. “I don’t want to talk about anybody else. I made my decisions. They are my mistakes, and I am sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that. The culture was what it was.”
Winfrey did quiz him about a reported attempt to donate $250,000 to USADA in 2004. Agency CEO, Travis Tygart revealed it in a 60 Minutes TV interview on January 9.
“It was a significant financial donation. One of his representatives made an offer to us,” Tygart said. “I was stunned. It was clear conflict of interest for USADA. We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer.”
“That’s not true?” asked Winfrey.
“That is not true,” Armstrong replied. “In the 1,000-page Reasoned Decision that they had issued, there was a lot of stuff in there, everything was in there, why wasn’t that in there? Pretty big story. Oprah, it’s not true.”
She pressed him, asking him if a representative made the offer.
“Nobody, I had no knowledge of that but I asked around. Nobody, not true. … That’s a lot of money. I would know. … That’s not true.”
Terry Madden served as agency CEO from 2000 to 2007, recalled the event and confirmed Armstrong’s lie.
“This is another personal attack on Travis Tygart and the United States Anti-Doping Agency,” Madden told ESPN. “Travis received a telephone call from one of Lance’s closest representatives, who offered to make a contribution to USADA.”
He explained that Tygart reported the call to him “within 30 seconds” and that he told Tygart to call back to reject the offer as it would be improper to accept it. He declined to name the caller due to federal whistleblower lawsuit filed by Floyd Landis, which names Armstrong’s friends and business partners.
The lawsuit lists Tailwind Sports, Montgomery Sports, Capital Sports & Entertainment, Thomas Weisel, Johan Bruyneel, Bill Stapleton and Bart Knaggs as defendants.
Armstrong donated $125,000 to cycling’s governing body, the UCI in 2002. The two parties say it was to help the cash-strapped body, but allegations have been made that it was to cover-up a doping positive.
USADA reported its findings in the Reasoned Decision released on October 10. In a section titled Armstrong’s Suspicious Test for EPO at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland, the Decision read, “Armstrong told both Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis that he had tested positive for EPO at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland and stated or implied that he had been able to make the EPO test result go away.”
“That story isn’t true,” Armstrong told Winfrey. “There was no positive test. No paying off of the lab. The UCI did not make that go away. I’m no fan of the UCI.”
Besides the USADA donation attempt, Armstrong appears to be telling other lies or covering up.
He would not talk about the 1996 hospital incident where Betsy and Frankie Andreu say that he admitted EPO use. He refused to clarify his dealings with known doping doctor, Michele Ferrari and said, “[he’s] a good man.” And, despite blood values and biological passport experts who say otherwise, he explained he was clean when he returned to racing in 2009.
Armstrong said that he views his story “as one big lie,” parts of which he intends to keep telling.
The Lance Armstrong confession: Part two
Lance Armstrong opens up to Oprah: Part one
Oprah Winfrey mesmerised and riveted by Armstrong interview
US government set to join Armstrong whistleblower case
Lance Armstrong confesses to doping