Cycling Reacts To Armstrong's Doping Allegations

Category: Sports / Jan 17, 2013 7:34PM EDT
Lance Armstrong is set to break his silence on Thursday (January 17), five months after being accused by the United States Anti Doping Authority (USADA) of being involved in one of the most sophisticated performance enhancing drug programs to have ever besmirched sport. Armstrong was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in Austin, Texas on Monday, with everything now pointing to a confession, at least of sorts, having taken place. For years, Armstrong has strenuously denied any wrongdoing, but with the evidence against him seemingly insurmountable, he appears poised to admit doping. Since USADA published its lengthy dossier in which it made numerous allegations against the seven time Tour de France winner, many at the top of cycling have conceded that the 41-year-old is a drug cheat, even if Armstrong has waited until now to come clean. At a news conference in Switzerland in October, UCI chief Pat McQuaid said that Armstrong had "no place" in the sport, and cycling needed to embark on a process of repairing its tarnished image. "UCI wishes to begin that journey, on that path forward today, confirming it will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and it will recognize the sanction that USADA has imposed," he told reporters. "UCI will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling and UCI will strip him of his seven Tour de France titles. Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling." Tyler Hamilton, who alleged that Armstrong doped when they were team-mates at the US Postal Team, told Reuters Television in a seemingly prophetic interview in November that Armstrong would feel better if he confessed. "For Lance Armstrong if he tells the truth he will, he's going to be OK, he's going to be OK and he's going to be much better off if he tells the truth. We know the truth, we know the truth, but everybody wants to hear it from him," he said. Hamilton was interviewed around the time Armstrong had published photos on Twitter showing himself relaxing in a room in his house, surrounded by the yellow jerseys he had won on the Tour de France. "You know he's still, he's still denying the past and you know that picture saddens me but, yeah I don't enjoy looking at that," he said. "He's most likely he's going through a process, you know, maybe a similar process that I went through. Maybe he's reflecting on the whole situation now. You know if I see that same, if he does the same picture like that in a year's time I'd be surprised. I think he's probably spending a lot of time thinking about it and you know it's got to be tearing him up inside." Former Tour de France winner Greg Lemond was another who called on Armstrong to confess. "That would be the best thing that he could ever do," he told Reuters Television in December. "I would be...I said I would shake his hand because I think he didn't act alone, he's not the only person. And remember the problem existed long before Lance so the issues we're talking about were there before Armstrong won the Tour. He had the best team to exploit it." 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins said he was upset that cycling's credibility had been called into question. "It is sad in a way, but it is sad that I have to answer the questions on it," he said during an event in London to celebrate the success of British cycling. "I think balls to all that. Do you know what I mean? At the end of the day, we are here tonight in Camden celebrating a success story that isn't built on sand, and it is never going to crumble, not even in 10 years time, so that is brilliant, that is something that is to be celebrated, which is why we are here." With the announcement Armstrong would go on Oprah being made last week, his fellow cyclists found the plans of the American to be most-asked question as their professional teams held media days in the build up to the new season, which starts with the Tour Down Under in Australia at the weekend. "I just hope he´s (Lance Armstrong) just honest and tells the truth, I think cycling needs the truth," said Movistar's Alex Dowsett. His team mate, Alejandro Valverde, said: "My opinion (regarding Armstrong)... we have to wait to see what he says, and later I will be able to comment, not now." Movistar's general manager, Eusebio Unzue, said he believed cycling had left the bad old days behind, but worried there would still be repercussions from past doping scandals. "We are here due to historical mistakes that, fortunately, will probably not be repeated in the future," he said. "But unfortunately, they are going to make us experience some difficult days in the coming months." There were some though who were keen to move on from the whole Armstrong scandal - or said they hadn't given his appearance on Oprah much consideration. Cadel Evans, who won the Tour de France in 2011, said: "For Lance's confession, I really... that's not something I've ever considered. To be honest. I don't know." And, when asked for his opinion, Tejay van Garderen added: "I don't really have one. I think Armstrong... That story has been going on way too long. I think it's time for it to be over." Meanwhile Juliet Macur, an American journalist close to Armstrong and the reporter who first suggested he might be about to confess, speculated on the kind of responses he would give Winfrey. "A lot of people keep asking me if Lance is going to cry and I'm not sure, I go back and forth," she said. "Lance is a master of changing his personality to fit the situation. This is why he's so successful. He's a very smart guy and he knows what people want. Basically America and the people that followed him as an inspiration for cancer. I think they want him to cry. I think they want him to say 'I am so sorry for deceiving you'."