Lance Armstrong’s legal troubles are growing. His lawyer says the Justice Department had joined a whistleblower lawsuit against the cyclist. It was brought on by one of Armstrong’s former teammates. Last month, Armstrong admitted he used performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career. The U.S. Anti-doping Agency stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour De France titles.
This story has 6 updates
Disgraced cyclist, Lance Armstrong is not trying to waltz his way back in to the public’s heart. Entertainment Weekly says the cyclist turned down a spot on “Dancing With The Stars.” This isn’t the first time the reality show has reached out to him. The show’s producers had actually called him every year since the show began.
(CNN) — Calling himself “deeply flawed,” now-disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong says he used an array of performance enhancing drugs to win seven Tour de France titles then followed that by years of often-angry denials.
“This is too late, it’s too late for probably most people. And that’s my fault,” he said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired Thursday night. “(This was) one big lie, that I repeated a lot of times.”
Armstrong admitted using testosterone and human growth hormone, as well as EPO — a hormone naturally produced by human kidneys to stimulate red blood cell production. It increases the amount of oxygen that can be delivered to muscles, improving recovery and endurance.
In addition to using drugs, the 2002 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year admitted to Winfrey that he took blood transfusions to excel in the highly competitive, scandal-ridden world of professional cycling. Doping was as much a part of the sport as pumping up tires or having water in a bottle, Armstrong said, calling it “the scariest” that he didn’t consider it cheating at the time.
The same man who insisted throughout and after his career that he’d passed each of the “hundreds and hundreds of tests I took” contended in the interview that he wouldn’t have won without doing what he did. While Armstrong didn’t invent the culture of doping in cycling, he said, he admitted not acting to prevent it either.
“I made my decisions,” Armstrong said. “They are my mistakes.”
Armstrong: I was “a bully”
The first installment in his interview, which was conducted earlier this week with the talk-show host, aired Thursday on the OWN cable network and on the Internet. The second installment will be broadcast Friday night.
Armstrong admitted he was “a bully … in the sense that I tried to control the narrative,” sometimes by spewing venom at ex-teammates he thought were “disloyal,” as well as suing people and publications that accused him of cheating.
He described himself as “a fighter” whose story of a happy marriage, recovery from cancer and international sporting success “was so perfect for so long.”
“I lost myself in all of that,” he said, describing himself as both a “humanitarian” and a “jerk” who’d been “arrogant” for years. “I was used to controlling everything in my life.”
The scandal has tarred the cancer charity Livestrong that he founded, as well as tarnished his once-glowing reputation as a sports hero.
Those who spoke out against Armstrong at the height of his power and popularity not only felt his wrath but the wrath of an adoring public.
Now, with Armstrong stripped of endorsement deals and his titles, those who did speak out are feeling vindicated.
They include Betsy Andreu, wife of fellow cyclist Frankie Andreu, who said she overheard Armstrong acknowledge to a doctor treating him for cancer in 1996 that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. She later testified about the incident and began cooperating with a reporter working on a book about doping allegations against Armstrong.
Armstrong subsequently ripped her, among others. More recently, he said he’d reached out to her to apologize — in what Andreu called “a very emotional phone call.”
“This was a guy who used to be my friend, who decimated me,” Andreu told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday night. “He could have come clean. He owed it to me. He owes it to the sport that he destroyed.”
In his interview with Winfrey, Armstrong said he understands why many might be upset that it took him so long to speak out, especially after going on the offensive for so long. He said he’s reached out in recent days to several people, such as Andreu, who publicly accused him of doping and then were attacked — and in some cases sued — by him.
And the former athletic icon also conceded he’d let down many fans “who believed in me and supported me” by being adamant, sometimes hurtful and consistently wrong in his doping denials.
“They have every right to feel betrayed, and it’s my fault,” he said. “I will spend the rest of my life … trying to earn back trust and apologize to people.”
Years of success and defiance, then a rapid fall
The Texas-born Armstrong grew up to become an established athlete, including winning several Tour de France stages. But his sporting career ground to a halt in 1996 when he was diagnosed with cancer. He was 25.
He returned to the cycling world, however. His breakthrough came in 1999, and he didn’t stop as he reeled off seven straight wins in his sport’s most prestigious race. Allegations of doping began during this time, as did Armstrong’s defiance, including investigations and a lawsuit against the author of a book accusing him of taking performance enhancing drugs.
He left the sport after his last win, in 2005, only to return to the tour in 2009.
Armstrong insisted he was clean when he finished third that year, but that comeback led to his downfall.
“We wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t come back,” he told Winfrey.
In 2011, Armstrong retired once more from cycling. But his fight to maintain his clean reputation wasn’t over, including a criminal investigation launched by federal prosecutors.
That case was dropped in February. But in April, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency notified Armstrong of an investigation into new doping charges. In response, the cyclist accused the organization of trying to “dredge up discredited” doping allegations and, a few months later, filed a lawsuit in federal court trying to halt the case.
In retrospect, Armstrong told Winfrey he “would do anything to go back to that day.”
“Because I wouldn’t fight, I wouldn’t sue them, I’d listen,” he said, offering to speak out about doping in the future.
The USADA found “overwhelming” evidence that Armstrong was involved in “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program.”
In August, Armstrong said he wouldn’t fight the charges, though he didn’t admit guilt either.
And the hits kept on coming.
In October, the International Cycling Union stripped him of all his Tour de France titles. Even then, he remained publicly defiant, tweeting a photo of himself a few weeks later lying on a sofa in his lounge beneath the seven framed yellow jerseys from those victories.
Then the International Olympic Committee stripped him of the bronze medal he won in the men’s individual time trial at the 2000 Olympic Games and asked him to return the award, an IOC spokesman said Thursday.
The USOC was notified Wednesday that the IOC wants the medal back, USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.
“We will shortly be asking Mr. Armstrong to return his medal to us, so that we can return it to the IOC.”
CNN’s Carol Cratty, Joseph Netto and George Howell contributed to this report.
™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.
By Josh Levs, (CNN) — The International Olympic Committee has called on disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong to return the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympic Games, an IOC spokesman said Thursday.
The move came in advance of a televised interview in which Armstrong is believed to acknowledge for the first time that he used prohibited performance-enhancing drugs in his career.
While talk show host Oprah Winfrey has not released details of exactly what Armstrong said in the recorded interview, she appeared to confirm media reports Tuesday that the former seven-time Tour de France champion admits doping and lying about it.
™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.
By Ed Payne, (CNN) — The court of public opinion weighed in decidedly against Lance Armstrong ahead of the broadcast of his interview with Oprah Winfrey, who confirmed media reports Tuesday that the cyclist acknowledged using performance-enhancing drugs after years of denials.
After CBS and other media outlets reported that Armstrong admitted using banned substances, Winfrey said her team and Armstrong’s camp had originally agreed not to leak details of the interview. She said she decided to appear on “CBS This Morning” because Armstrong’s acknowledgment had “already been confirmed.”
Winfrey, appearing on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday, did not describe Armstrong’s statements in detail but said the former cyclist was forthcoming in what she said was an exhausting and intense interview taped in Armstrong’s hometown of Austin, Texas.
“We were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers,” she said, adding that “he did not come clean in the manner that I expected.” She didn’t elaborate.
On CNN’s Facebook page, the opinions were passionate and pointed.
“This guy is a loser and a liar!!” Melinda Morgan said. “He is not sorry for what he did, he is sorry that he got caught!!”
Margaret Midkiff said there’s no hope of Armstrong reviving his career. “He’s lied to folks way too long.”
For more than a decade, Armstrong has denied he used performance-enhancing drugs, but he was linked to a doping scandal by nearly a dozen other former cyclists who have admitted to doping.
Some media outlets have reported that Armstrong has been strongly considering the possibility of a confession, possibly as a way to stem the tide of fleeing sponsors and as part of a long-term comeback plan.
But Gretta Michellé said it’s too late for redemption.
“He had the opportunity to be honest from the beginning and he should have,” she posted on the Facebook page. “Winning was more important.”
Armstrong’s admission is a sharp about-face after more than a decade of vehemently denying he cheated en route to winning a record seven Tour de France titles. Cycling’s international governing body, the UCI, stripped the titles from Armstrong following a report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that found widespread evidence of Armstrong’s involvement in a sophisticated doping program.
The interview will air over two nights, beginning at 9 p.m. ET Thursday on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Winfrey has promised a “no-holds-barred” interview, with no conditions and no payment made to Armstrong.
“I hope the ratings are (a) record low on that show,” Matthew Black said in a Facebook comment.
Winfrey declined to characterize Armstrong’s statements, saying she preferred that viewers make up their own minds. She said the interview was at times emotional and surprisingly intense.
“I would say that he met the moment,” she said.
Word that Armstrong may have allowed some emotion to show through didn’t seem to soften many critics.
“Go ahead and cry, Lance … it won’t help you one bit,” Lori Polacek said. You “blew it a long time ago!”
Cancer charity: The trump card?
Some were willing to cut Armstrong a break because of his long-running cancer charity: the Livestrong Foundation.
“Who cares?” said Pedro Murillo. “He raised so much for cancer research, that’s more important (than) if he doped for some races.”
David Flowe said he doesn’t care if Armstrong was involved in doping or if he even confesses to it.
“The man is an inspiration for those battling cancer,” he said. “Quit being so judgmental of others especially someone who has done so much good for the world!”
Armstrong, 41, has been an icon for his cycling feats and celebrity, bringing more status to a sport wildly popular in some nations but lacking big-name recognition, big money and mass appeal in the United States.
He fought back from testicular cancer to win the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005. He raised millions via his Lance Armstrong Foundation to help cancer victims and survivors, an effort illustrated by trendy yellow “LiveSTRONG” wristbands that helped bring in the money.
Before the interview with Winfrey, the disgraced cycling legend apologized to the staff of his cancer charity, a publicist for Livestrong Foundation said.
Armstrong was tearful during the 15-minute meeting and didn’t address the issue of steroid use in cycling, said Rae Bazzarre, director of communications for the foundation.
Bazzarre added that Armstrong offered to the staff a “sincere and heartfelt apology for the stress they’ve endured because of him.”
He urged them to keep working hard to help cancer survivors and their families.
Banned for life
The USADA hit Armstrong with a lifetime ban after the agency issued a 202-page report in October that said there was overwhelming evidence he was directly involved in a sophisticated doping program.
The report detailed Armstrong’s alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions. The USADA said it had tested Armstrong fewer than 60 times and the International Cycling Union conducted about 215 tests.
“Show one failed test, just one,” Ron Berg said, challenging the wave of public opinion against Armstrong. “You can’t, because he passed them all. … They hate him for his success and tried to fail him, they could not.”
The agency did not say that Armstrong ever failed a test, but his former teammates testified as to how they beat tests or avoided them altogether.
Where to watch the Oprah interview of Lance Armstrong:
You can watch the interview on the OWN network channel (find your specific channel using “The OWN Channel Finder” on Oprah.com) or watch it live on Oprah.com 9/8c Thursday and Friday.
CNN’s Steve Almasy and Michael Pearson contributed to this report.
™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.
Lance Armstrong said he will answer questions “directly, honestly and candidly” during an interview with Oprah Winfrey next week. He will also apologize and make a limited confession to using performance-enhancing drugs, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Armstrong has spent more than a decade denying that he doped to win the Tour de France seven times. Without saying whether he would confess or apologize during the taping, Armstrong told The Associated Press in a text message early 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.”
A confession would be a stunning reversal for Armstrong after years of public statements, interviews and court battles from Austin to Europe in which he denied doping and zealously protected his reputation.
Armstrong was stripped of his titles and banned from the sport for life last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping agency issued a detailed report accusing him of leading a sophisticated and brazen drug program on his U.S. Postal Service teams that included steroids, blood boosters and a range of performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong’s interview with Winfrey is not expected to go into great detail about specific allegations levied in the more than 1,000-page USADA report. But Armstrong will make a general confession and apologize, according to the person, who requested anonymity because there was no authorization to speak publicly. Several outlets had also reported that Armstrong was considering a confession.
Armstrong hasn’t responded to the USADA report or being stripped of his Tour de France titles. But shortly afterward, he tweeted a picture of himself on a couch at home with all seven of the yellow leader’s jerseys on display in a room at his home in Austin. He also agreed to be interviewed there, in what the Oprah Winfrey Network announced would be a “no-holds barred” session. That’s scheduled to be taped Monday and broadcast Thursday night.
“His reputation is in crisis,” said crisis management expert Mike Paul, president of New York-based, MGP & Associates PR. “Most people don’t trust what comes out of his mouth. He has to be truly repentant and humble.”
He also has to be careful.
Armstrong is facing legal challenges on several fronts, including a federal whistle-blower lawsuit brought by former teammate Floyd Landis, who himself was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title, accusing him of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service. The U.S. Justice Department has yet to announce whether it will join the case.
The London-based Sunday Times is also suing Armstrong to recover about $500,000 it paid him to settle a libel lawsuit, and Dallas-based SCA Promotions has threatened to bring yet another lawsuit against Armstrong to recover more than $7.5 million an arbitration panel awarded him as a bonus for winning the Tour de France.
The only lawsuit potentially impacted by a confession might be the Sunday Times case. Potential perjury charges stemming from his sworn testimony in the 2005 arbitration fight would not apply because of the statute of limitations. Armstrong was not deposed during a federal investigation that was closed last year without charges being brought.
However, he lost most of his personal endorsements — worth tens of millions of dollars — after USADA issued its report and he left the board of the Livestrong cancer-fighting charity he founded in 1997. He is still said to be worth an estimated $100 million.
Livestrong might be one reason to issue an apology or make a confession. The charity supports cancer patients and still faces an image problem because of its association with Armstrong.
He may also be hoping a confession would allow him to return to competition in the elite triathlon or running events he participated in after his cycling career. But World Anti-Doping Code rules state his lifetime ban cannot be reduced to less than eight years. WADA and U.S. Anti-Doping officials could agree to reduce the ban further depending on what new information Armstrong provides and his level of cooperation. USADA chief Travis Tygart did not return a call Saturday from the AP.
Armstrong met with USADA officials recently to explore a “pathway to redemption,” according to a report by “60 Minutes Sports” aired Wednesday on Showtime.
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