Wed | Sep 28, 2016

Armstrong's interview provokes little sympathy

Published:Saturday | January 19, 2013 | 12:00 AM
In this July 19, 2009 photo, Lance Armstrong crosses the finish line during the 15th stage of the Tour de France cycling race in Verbier, Switzerland. - AP


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," World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President John Fahey told The Associated Press yesterday.

"My feeling after watching the interview is that he indicated that he probably would not have been 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 United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) 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 2010 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 defence, Armstrong said he was doping because using illegal substances was the only way 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."