Armstrong interview provokes little sympathy

Published: 19th January 2013 10:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th January 2013 10:10 AM   |  A+A-


Now that Lance Armstrong has confessed to what most people already knew, sports officials want to know more.

Many believe Armstrong's televised interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs on his way to seven Tour de France titles, did not go far enough.

"He didn't name names. He didn't say who supplied him, what officials were involved," WADA President John Fahey told The Associated Press on Friday.

"My feeling after watching the interview is that he indicated that he probably would not have gotten caught if he hadn't returned to the sport," Fahey added. "If he was looking for redemption, he didn't succeed in getting that."

After refuting doping allegations ever since he won his first Tour de France in 1999, Armstrong admitted on Thursday that he used the blood-booster EPO, testosterone and blood doping at least since the mid-1990s. He has been stripped of all the titles and banned from competing for life following a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that detailed his cheating.

"We're left wanting more. We have to know more about the system," Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme told the AP. "He couldn't have done it alone. We have to know who in his entourage helped him to do this."

Amid a long interview in which he came clean on doping throughout his seven tour titles, he said he wasn't cheating when he returned to ride in the 2009 and '10 Tours.

Pierre Bordry, the head of the French Anti-Doping Agency from 2005-10, said there was nothing to guarantee that Armstrong isn't still lying and protecting others.

"He's going in the right direction but with really small steps," Bordry told the AP in a telephone interview. "He needs to bring his testimony about the environment and the people who helped him. He should do it before an independent commission or before USADA and that would no doubt help the future of cycling."

IOC vice president Thomas Bach said Armstrong's admission — after years of vehement denials — was not nearly enough for the Texan to get his credibility back or help the sport clean itself up.

"I think this is too little, too late," Bach, a German lawyer who leads the IOC's anti-doping investigations, told the AP. "It's a first step in the right direction but no more.

"If he really loves his sport and wants to regain at least some credibility, then he should tell the whole truth and cooperate with the relevant sports bodies."

USADA chief executive Travis Tygart, who pursued the case against Armstrong when others had stopped, also felt Armstrong must go further.

"If he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities," Tygart said.

In his defense, Armstrong said he was doping because using illegal substances was the only for him to compete on a level playing field.

Daniel Baal, the former president of the French Cycling Federation and the Tour deputy race director from 2001-04, was scathing in his assessment of Armstrong.

"He says that it is about professionalism, that it is part of the job to dope. This is unbelievable, unacceptable," Baal told the AP. "He knowingly broke these rules. And to say (what he said) is to once again make a fool of the other cyclists."

Irish journalist David Walsh, whose articles for the London Sunday Times and books detailed the American cyclist's use of banned substances, agreed the interview fell short.

"He has to name names ... he is probably the biggest cheat sport has ever known," Walsh said on the BBC.

Even former athletes weren't swayed.

"(Armstrong) said that he had the sensation that he wasn't cheating, what a joke," said Spanish rider Pedro Delgado, the 1988 Tour winner. "I believe he had it very clear that he was indeed cheating."

"Some people are saying this is the death blow for cycling. I doubt it," he added. "It is just one more scandal."

Former cyclist Christophe Bassons, who was hounded by Armstrong at the 1999 Tour for speaking out against doping, said the cancer survivor appeared "cold, hard," in the interview.

"He didn't let any sentiment show, even when he spoke of regrets. Well, that's Lance Armstrong," Bassons told the AP. "There's always a portion of lies in what he says, in my opinion. He's not totally honest even in his so-called confession. I think he admits some of it to avoid saying the rest."

Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic said at the Australian Open that Armstrong "should suffer for his lies all these years."

"It's a disgrace for the sport to have an athlete like this," he said.

The International Cycling Union, the governing body of cycling, and its former president appear to be the most satisfied with what they heard.

The UCI has been accused of protecting Armstrong and covering up positive tests, something Armstrong denied to Winfrey.

"I am pleased that after years of accusations being made against me the conspiracy theories have been shown to be nothing more than that," said Hein Verbruggen, the president of the UCI from 1991-2005. "I have no doubt that the peddlers of such accusations and conspiracies will be disappointed by this outcome."

The UCI, now led by Pat McQuaid, hailed Armstrong's confession as "an important step forward on the long road to repairing the damage that has been caused to cycling and to restoring confidence in the sport."


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