January 8, 2013
The year before his seventh and final Tour de France victory, Lance Armstrong offered to donate “in excess of $150,000″ to the antidoping agency in charge of keeping American athletes from using performance-enhancing drugs, according to the organization’s chief executive.
The latest accusation against Armstrong, the disgraced former cyclist, was made by the current head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart, in an interview with CBS News posted online on Tuesday. In October, Usada stripped Armstrong of all of his titles and barred him from competition for life following the release of a 202-page report into what the agency called “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
As my colleague Juliet Macur reported, Armstrong, who has so far denied all allegations of cheating, “has told associates and antidoping officials that he is considering publicly admitting that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his cycling career.” Late Tuesday, Oprah Winfrey announced that she “will speak exclusively with Lance Armstrong in his first no-holds-barred interview,” to be broadcast next week on her network.
As the cycling journalist Lionel Birnie notes, the Oprah Winfrey Network is a joint venture with Discovery Communications, the broadcaster that sponsored Armstrong’s team in 2005.
The network’s logo was emblazoned across the victor’s yellow jersey Armstrong wore on the top step of the podium in Paris that year, as he lectured “the people that don’t believe in cycling, the cynics and the skeptics.”
Directly addressing those who accused him of doping that day, Armstrong said, “I’m sorry for you, I’m sorry you can’t dream big and I’m sorry you don’t believe in miracles, but this is one hell of a race, this is a great sporting event and you should stand around and believe. You should believe in these athletes and you should believe in these people. I’m a fan of the Tour de France for as long as I live and there’s no secrets — hard work wins it.”
Another journalist who writes about cycling, Shane Stokes, suggested that Armstrong might expect Winfrey to go easy on him, since she let another disgraced athlete, Marion Jones, claim during a 2008 interview that she had used performance-enhancing drugs unintentionally.
Just after news of the interview broke, Kathy LeMond, whose husband, Greg, is now the only American to win the Tour de France, offered to put Winfrey in touch with people who could give her a crash course on the culture of professional cycling.
Joe Lindsey of Bicycling Magazine asked his Twitter followers to help Winfrey by suggesting some tough questions.
The complete CBS interview with the antidoping official is scheduled to be broadcast on Wednesday, during the premier of a new program, “60 Minutes Sports.” In one portion released on Tuesday, Tygart said it was “totally inappropriate” that Armstrong had donated about $100,000 to the International Cycling Union, a regulatory body involved in drug testing, during his career. He then revealed that someone representing Armstrong had offered to give the American antidoping agency more than $150,000 at some point in 2004. “It was a clear conflict of interest for Usada,” Tygart said. “We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer.” Pressed further about the amount of the proposed donation, Tygart said that it was about $250,000.
In another portion of the interview, broadcast on the CBS Evening News on Tuesday, Tygart said that Armstrong had tried to intimidate former teammates who had testified to a federal grand jury about his doping. The official also revealed that he personally had received death threats as a result of his investigation into the cancer survivor who was once a hero to millions.
Lance Armstrong may not be done confessing.
His interview with Oprah Winfrey hasn’t aired yet, but already some people want to hear more — under oath — before Armstrong is allowed to compete in elite triathlons, a sport he returned to after retiring from cycling in 2011. In addition to stripping him of all seven of his Tour de France titles last year, anti-doping officials banned Armstrong for life from sanctioned events.
“He’s got to follow a certain course,” David Howman, director general of World Anti-Doping Agency, told the AP. “That is not talking to a talk show host.”
Armstrong already has had conversations with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials, touching off speculation that the team leader who demanded loyalty from others soon may face some very tough choices himself: whether to cooperate and name those who aided, knew about or helped cover up a sophisticated doping ring that Armstrong ran on his tour-winning U.S. Postal Service squads. Former teammate Frankie Andreu, one of several riders Armstrong cast aside on his ride to the top of the sport, said no one could provide a better blueprint for cleaning up the sport.
“Lance knows everything that happened,” Andreu told The Associated Press. “He’s the one who knows who did what because he was the ringleader. It’s up to him how much he wants to expose.”
World Anti-Doping Agency officials said nothing short of “a full confession under oath” would even cause them to reconsider the ban. Although Armstrong admitted to Winfrey on Monday that he used performance-enhancing drugs, Howman said that is “hardly the same as giving evidence to a relevant authority.” The International Cycling Union also urged Armstrong to tell his story to an independent commission it has set up to examine claims that the sport’s governing body hid suspicious samples, accepted financial donations, and helped Armstrong avoid detection in doping tests.
Winfrey wouldn’t detail what Armstrong said during their interview at a downtown Austin hotel. In an appearance on “CBS This Morning,” she said she was “mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers.” What had been planned as a 90-minute broadcast will be shown as a two-part special, Thursday and Friday, on Winfrey’s OWN network.
The lifetime ban was imposed after a 1,000-page report by USADA last year outlined a complex, long-running doping program led by Armstrong. The cyclist also lost nearly all of his endorsements and was forced to cut ties with the Livestrong cancer charity he founded in 1997. The damage to Armstrong’s reputation was just as severe.
The report portrayed him as well-versed in the use of a wide range of performance-enhancers, including steroids and blood boosters such as EPO, and willing to exploit them to dominate. Nearly a dozen teammates provided testimony about that drug regimen, among them Andreu and his wife, Betsy.
“A lot of it was news and shocking to me,” Andreu said. “I am sure it’s shocking to the world. There’s been signs leading up to this moment for a long time. For my wife and I, we’ve been attacked and ripped apart by Lance and all of his people, and all his supporters repeatedly for a long time. I just wish they wouldn’t have been so blind and opened up their eyes earlier to all the signs that indicated there was deception there, so that we wouldn’t have had to suffer as much.
“And it’s not only us,” he added, “he’s ruined a lot of people’s lives.”
Armstrong was believed to have left for Hawaii. The street outside his Spanish-style villa on Austin’s west side was quiet the day after international TV crews gathered there hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Meanwhile, members of his legal team mapped out a strategy on how to handle at least two pending lawsuits against Armstrong, and possibly a third.
Former teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, alleges in one of the lawsuits that Armstrong defrauded the U.S. government by repeatedly denying he used performance-enhancing drugs. The False Claims Act lawsuit could require Armstrong to return substantial sponsorship fees and pay a hefty fine. The AP reported earlier Tuesday that Justice Department officials were likely to join the whistleblower lawsuit before a Thursday deadline.
Oprah Winfrey was born on January 29th, 1954 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oprah
January 29th, 1954
1 + 29 +2+0+1+2 = 35 = her personal year = Lance Armstrong being defensive and defending himself.
35 year + 12 (December) = 47 = her personal month = Going international. Legacy.
47 month + 17 (17th of the month) = 64 = It’s done. Stick a fork in it. All is lost.
47 month + 18 (18th of the month on Friday January 18th, 2013) = 65 = her personal day = Corruption. Ringleader.
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