Lance Armstrong will make a limited doping confession and reach out to Floyd Landis in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Thursday. According to USA Today, after years of denials, threats and lawsuits, he will discuss his cheating.
An anonymous source told the newspaper on Saturday, “[Armstrong] plans to admit to doping throughout his career but probably will not get into great detail about specific cases and events.”
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This morning it reported that it learned from insiders, Armstrong would also try to reconcile with former team-mate Landis.
The two Americans rode together from 2002 to 2004, when Landis helped Armstrong win three of his seven Tour de France titles. Landis later joined Phonak and won the Tour in 2006, but lost the title when tests revealed he doped with testosterone.
Landis returned to racing and reached out to Armstrong, but was given the cold shoulder. The actions helped him to become Armstrong’s worst enemy and to aid the FDA and USADA investigations. This summer, the USADA found Armstrong guilty of doping, stripped him of his results since 1998 and banned him for life.
The rumoured confession may serve two purposes: allow Armstrong to return to competition and snuff a whistleblower lawsuit.
According to the New York Times, Armstrong is trying to reach out to the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in order to reduce his lifetime ban. The 41-year-old Texan had been successfully competing in triathlons through last summer. A confession might allow him to return to competition and help win back sponsors to earn money.
Reaching out to Landis would also be financially beneficial. At the same time of spilling the beans on US Postal’s and Discovery Channel’s doping regimen, Landis filed a whistleblower lawsuit. If the US Department of Justice joins in and sees it through, Armstrong and his former team’s management company, Tailwind Sports may have to pay up to a $90m (£56m) penalty.
The Oprah network will film the 90-minute interview today and air it on Thursday at 9pm east coast time, or at 2am on Friday in London.
Critics doubt the interview’s scope because it is with a celebrity and not with an anti-doping official. If he confesses, he will likely not give specifics and try to limit losses. It will turn into what some have called the Soap Oprah.
In a text message, Armstrong wrote the Associated Press on Saturday, “I told her [Winfrey] to go wherever she wants and I’ll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That’s all I can say.”
The Sunday Times yesterday placed an advertisement in Winfrey’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune. In the form of an open letter, long-time critic and the newspaper’s chief sports writer, David Walsh listed 10 questions Winfrey should ask Armstrong.
One of the questions aims at a 2006 lawsuit between Armstrong and the Sunday Times. It lost a court case against Armstrong after it printed extracts from the book LA Confidentiel. Following USADA’s ruling, the newspaper decided to sue Armstrong last month for $1.5m (£1m) to reclaim damages.
If Armstrong goes ahead with the confession, he further opens himself up to perjury stemming from the SCA Promotions case. Armstrong denied doping under oath in a civil court case in 2005. SCA Promotions announced it is demanding the return of bonuses paid, estimated at £8.5m, and said it has enough firepower already thanks to USADA’s work.
The Sunday Times‘ questions:
– Did you tell doctors at the Indiana University Hospital on Oct. 27, 1996, that you had taken EPO, human growth hormone, cortisone, steroids and testosterone?
– After returning from cancer how did you justify putting banned drugs in your body?
– Did you have any sympathy for those rivals determined to race clean?
– Do you regret how you treated Betsy Andreu, your former masseuse Emma O’Reilly and Greg LeMond?
– Do you admit that your friend Dr Michele Ferrari fully supported your team’s doping?
– Is it your intention to return the prize money you earned from Sept. 1998 to July 2010?
– Did you sue the Sunday Times to shut us up?
– Was your failure to understand Floyd Landis the key to your downfall?
– Do you accept your lying to the cancer community was the greatest deception of all?
– Why have you chosen Oprah Winfrey for your first interview as a banned athlete?