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Armstrong admits doping his way to seven Tour de France victories but denies using PEDs after 2009 comeback

Did you ever take banned substances to enhance cycling performance?” “Yes.” Thus replied Lance Armstrong to the very first question put by Oprah Winfrey in part one of her interview with him that aired at 9pm Eastern Time in the United States yesterday evening. Admissions to using EPO, cortisone, testosterone and having illegal blood transfusions swiftly followed as he admitted he had doped his way to all seven of his Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005. However, he strongly denied doping following his comeback in 2009.

From the outset, it was clear that Winfrey would not be giving Armstrong an easy ride. Her research had been meticulous, the questions were uncompromising, and each was preceded by a short montage that set the scene.

For Armstrong's part, there were none of the predicted tears, his gaze steel-blue, though his nervousness at some of the more punchy questions was betrayed by nervous laughter and shifting uncomfortably in his chair.

At other times, he was defiant, particularly when aggressively rejecting certain parts of the testimony laid against him - shades of the man who for so long denied everything, though given the reaction on Twitter and in the media, no-one seems inclined to believe any of his protestations now - and occasionally he even seemed distant and detached, as though talking about someone else.

"You brazenly denied everything so why now?" asked Winfrey.

"That's the best question," said Armstrong. "I don't know I have a great answer.

"This is too late, probably for most people and that's my fault. I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times. It's not as if I said no and moved off it. While I've lived through this process, I know the truth. The truth isn't what I said and now it's gone."

Regarding his doping, he said: "I viewed it as very simple. There were things that were oxygen-supplying drugs that were beneficial for cycling. My cocktail was EPO, but not a lot, transfusions and testosterone. There's no true justification.

"Were you afraid of getting caught?"

"No. Testing has evolved. Back then they didn't come to your house and there was no testing out of competition and for most of my career there wasn't that much out-of-competition testing so you're not going to get caught because you clean up for the races.

"It's a question of scheduling. That sounds weird. I'm no fan of the UCI but the biological passport worked."

However, it became apparent very early on that Armstrong would not be admitting to all of the findings of the USADA investigation that saw him banned from sport for life and stripped of all results dating from 1 August 1999.

He maintained that USADA's claim that it was the biggest doping conspiracy in sporting history was incorrect, citing the former East German doping programme.

Most notably, he refuted suggestions he had taken banned substances following his comeback in 2009, despite evidence in USADA's dossier of, among other things, suspicious blood values and payments to the banned trainer and physician Michele Ferrari, who Armstrong said he viewed "as a good man, as a smart man, and I still do.”

Armstrong's denial of doping since his comeback echoes the words of UCI President Pat McQuaid, who when he announced in October that the governing body was endorsing USADA's decision, said: "I don't accept the findings in 2009 and 2010."

There is a good reason for Armstrong to continue to deny doping from that period; under a statute of limitations, parties such as sponsors cannot sue him following his confession to doping. However, no such bar would apply to lawsuits relating to the period from 2009 onwards.

Likewise, he rejected some of the testimony provided by USADA's witnesses, insisting that he never told junior riders on the team to dope, mentioning Christian Vande Velde to dope.

Armstrong admitted, "I was a bully. I tried to control the narrative. If I didn't like what somebody said, I tried to control that. I've been like that my entire life.

"It was win at all costs. When I was diagnosed [with cancer in 1996] I would do anything to survive. I took that attitude - win at all costs - to cycling. That's bad. I was taking drugs before that but I wasn't a bully," he added, thereby admitting doping before the period to which the USADA investigation relates and, moreover, before he contracted cancer; some have wondered whether his contracting the disease may have resulted from prior drug use.

Asked about those who had been among the first to point the finger at him, he said that his former masseuse, Emma O'Reilly, was "one of these people I have to apologise to. She’s one of these people who got run over." Reminded by Winfrey he had sued her, Armstrong seemed lost for a moment. "We sued so many people I’m not sure," he said.

He confirmd she had been correct when she said that he had tested positive for cortisone during the 1999 Tour and had only managed to escape further action after producing a ficticious and backdated therapeutic use exemption certificate.

Mentioning Sunday Times journalist David Walsh, to whom O'Reilly had revealed details of Armstrong's doping, and Betsy Andreu, wife of his former team mate Frankie Andreu, Winfrey pressed him: "You’re suing people and you know they’re telling the truth? What is that?"

"It’s a major flaw… it’s inexcusable," replied Armstrong.

However, he refused to answer a question about whether Betsy Andreu was telling the truth when she said that she had heard him list substances he had taken to a doctor in an Indianapolis hospital room when he was first diagnosed with cancer.

Speaking to CNN immediately after last night's interview, Mrs Andreu said: "The hospital is where it all started. He's going to infuriate people who know the truth. He's still protecting people who are close to him."

Referring to his protestations that he had no influence over whether others in the team doping and no control over hiring and firing, she added: He was co-owner of the team, decided who was hired, fired, who got paid what. He was cosying up to politicians, the governing bodies. It's completely disingenuous and a way of distancing himself of being the leader."

One of the more surprising twists was Armstrong's claim that the donation of $125,000 that he made to the UCI was not a unilateral one made voluntarily, but rather was made at the request of the UCI. He denied, however, that it was linked to a suspect test for EPO during the Tour de Suisse in 2001 - he said "there was no positive test" and that "the UCI did not make that go away."

He added, "I'm no fan of the UCI," which begs the question of why he made the payment, whether that be of his own volition or  at the request of the UCI. He also said that the payment was made after his first retirement in 2005.

However, in 2010, Pat McQuaid said that Armstrong had offered the money at a meeting at UCI headquarters in Aigle in May 2002, paying $25,000 by personal cheque there and then and the remaining $100,000 in 2005 when he was sent a reminder. Questions are bound to be asked of the UCI about whether Armstrong made the payments voluntarily, or whether the sum was requested of him.

Armstrong also insisted he had no influence in the Department of Justice dropping the federal investigation against him in February last year - he said it was "difficult" to do which some observers noted isn't the same as saying it's "impossible" - and he added that he believed he was "out of the woods" when the it was shelved.

Referring to the prospect of a truth and reconciliation commission, Armstrong said: "If they have it, and I'm invited, I'll be the first man at the door."

For many, the tipping point in the investigation against Armstrong, and the moment their suspicions he had cheated turned to certainty, was when it was revealed that George Hincapie, who rode alongside him in all seven editions of the Tour between 1999 and 2005, had testified to the federal grand jury investigating the former US Postal team.

"George is the most credible voice in all this," reflected Armstrong. "He did all seven Tours, I knew him since I was 16, we parcatically lived together, we trained together every day, and for the record, we're still great friends. We still talk once a week, I don't fault George Hincapie. But George knows this story better than anybody."

Those were Armstrong's final words in the first part of the interview, and it appears that the focus will now shift away from cycling. Among issues that will be explored in the second part, airing tomorrow at 9am Eastern Time (2am GMT in the UK) are LiveStrong, sponsors, his children, his mother, and what lies ahead for him.

In a statement issued shortly after the programme finished, USADA, without whose persistence Armstrong would most likely never have been held to account, said: “Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit.

"His admission that he doped throughout his career is a small step in the right direction. But 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.”

Livestrong, the charity Armstrong founded as he recovered from cancer, also issued a statement after the interview aired, saying: “We at the Livestrong Foundation are disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us. Earlier this week, Lance apologized to our staff and we accepted his apology in order to move on and chart a strong, independent course. We look forward to devoting our full energy to our mission of helping people not only fight and survive cancer, but also thrive in life after cancer.

"Even in the wake of our disappointment, we also express our gratitude to Lance as a survivor for the drive, devotion and spirit he brought to serving cancer patients and the entire cancer community. Lance is no longer on the Foundation’s board, but he is our founder and we will always be grateful to him for creating and helping to build a Foundation that has served millions struggling with cancer.

The Livestrong Foundation is one of the most highly-rated and effective cancer organizations in the United States. Our success has never been based on one person – it’s based on the patients and survivors we serve every day, who approach a cancer diagnosis with hope, courage and perseverance. We listened to their needs and took action to create free cancer support services that offer access to clinical trials, fertility preservation, insurance coverage and even transportation to treatment. People living with and through cancer are the inspiration behind our work. They have been, are and always will be our focus.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

71 comments

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zeb [48 posts] 3 years ago
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There is a trend, and we saw it in the recent finance crisis, where rich, famous and powerful people think that apologising in public is good enough for redemption. No, it is not good enough. Armstrong is one of the most vile and despicable person on Earth, not really because he cheated, but because he ruined the lives of people who he knew were telling the truth. Careers were stopped, money and reputations were lost. That is unforgivable. He needs to go to jail for a long time, and pay the people he bullied.

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LeDomestique [34 posts] 3 years ago
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Great to see the full story on road cc. The Americans love redemption, but Armstrong's continual lies blighted people's lives and an entire sport. He should never be allowed anywhere near any kind of sporting endeavour ever again. His manic desire to win and control perverted his morals once before and would do so again

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cidermart [486 posts] 3 years ago
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Agreed there is a genuine love for redemption that side of the pond. I've got no time or sympathy for someone who now says "I feel uncomfortable talking about other people" why is that? are you scared someone might sue you for libel.

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offshore_dave [62 posts] 3 years ago
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Straight to jail.

An apology is the very least he could do.

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RacePace [18 posts] 3 years ago
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zeb wrote:

There is a trend, and we saw it in the recent finance crisis, where rich, famous and powerful people think that apologising in public is good enough for redemption. No, it is not good enough. Armstrong is one of the most vile and despicable person on Earth, not really because he cheated, but because he ruined the lives of people who he knew were telling the truth. Careers were stopped, money and reputations were lost. That is unforgivable. He needs to go to jail for a long time, and pay the people he bullied.

Well said, I couldn't agree more, his ability to steam roller anything in his way is beyond belief, I for one would be glad if we never heard another thing from him again.

I can only see that everything he does only servers him in some way, he has no thought for anyone else or the sport as a whole, he will never be able to put right the wrongs he has done, Betsy Andreu and the team who spoke out being prime examples

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antonio [1102 posts] 3 years ago
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Bullying, threats, suing,exactly the attitude of Pat and Heinze, who taught who?

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Colin Peyresourde [1636 posts] 3 years ago
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Slightly strange that the UCI requested one of its riders donate some money to their drug testing program!

Could it be that he limited testimony to protect his 'friends'.

Of course! No change there Lance. Still lying and still unrepentant.

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Roberj4 [214 posts] 3 years ago
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Lance needs to do time in jail end of story.

Did anybody catch Emma O'Reilly on ITV Breakfast 7.45 this morning, good catch compared to BBC, she managed to remain very strong especial her answer to the last question placed "was the Lance admission finally an apology" Emma replied it wasn't even a start.

Lance Armstrong really has destroyed a lot of people lives and careers.

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Colin Peyresourde [1636 posts] 3 years ago
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Actually Pat and Hein will be very happy about the fact that Lance said the blood passports work. I don't think there is a word he said that would upset them....although they may have felt a little upset that he didn't say they were great friends.

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Lacticlegs [124 posts] 3 years ago
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This is all such self-serving crap.

A carefully crafted 'admission' that seeks only to limit his current liabilities - and when it comes to the 'credibility' Armstrong is so fond of referring to; he has none.

He has denied everything right up to and beyond when it was possible to do so.

His admissions now are partial, and nothing still within the statute of limitations is being confessed to.

Please oh please America - show some moral fibre and prosecute this turd. And let's hear no more of him. Ever.

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Wesselwookie [212 posts] 3 years ago
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The video of Nicole Cook in this piece by the BBC News website has a very good point:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21024288

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mattsccm [324 posts] 3 years ago
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Not disagreeing just wondering. Prosecute for things you don't like or actual laws being broken? Bullying isn't a crime. Or shall we have a go at any number of big names.
Know what pisses me off?
how any of us who have not been personally affected by this, ie lost some prize money, have any right to a say. Nowt to do with us really, just opinion. However wiggins for example might well have a valid opinion on that matter.

Too much emotion being shown all round.

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Wesselwookie [212 posts] 3 years ago
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 30 Armstrong should have been interviewed by a proper journalist not the fawning TV presenter. Even in his admissions he is still trying to control everything.
 44

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Gizmo_ [1332 posts] 3 years ago
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zeb wrote:

There is a trend, and we saw it in the recent finance crisis, where rich, famous and powerful people think that apologising in public is good enough for redemption. No, it is not good enough. Armstrong is one of the most vile and despicable person on Earth, not really because he cheated, but because he ruined the lives of people who he knew were telling the truth. Careers were stopped, money and reputations were lost. That is unforgivable. He needs to go to jail for a long time, and pay the people he bullied.

First comment hits the nail on the head. I don't care that he doped, he was the best of a doped generation.

But ruining other people's livelihoods, that's unforgiveable.

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JulesW [36 posts] 3 years ago
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Very few winners of Le Tour or any of the Grand Tours are 'normal'. They have a deep desire, a need to win.

Merck, the cannibal, who had to beat everyone at any cost. This is a nickname which exposes his real self. Bernard Hinault in 1986 who, despite promising to help LeMond win after his sacrifice the previous year, raced him but later claimed it was to draw out his rivals. He attacked LeMond throughout the entire 86 Tour. If he could have won, Hinault would have done so.

Once the lie is started it can never be allowed to weaken. It has to be defended at all costs or it totally unravels.

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 3 years ago
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Gizmo_ wrote:
zeb wrote:

There is a trend, and we saw it in the recent finance crisis, where rich, famous and powerful people think that apologising in public is good enough for redemption. No, it is not good enough. Armstrong is one of the most vile and despicable person on Earth, not really because he cheated, but because he ruined the lives of people who he knew were telling the truth. Careers were stopped, money and reputations were lost. That is unforgivable. He needs to go to jail for a long time, and pay the people he bullied.

First comment hits the nail on the head. I don't care that he doped, he was the best of a doped generation.

But ruining other people's livelihoods, that's unforgiveable.

I agree as well - it wasn't just that he doped, but that he lied about it and continued lying by using the legal system to keep quiet all those who spoke out against him. It's one thing to confess to being a cheat, a liar and a bully, but it's another to repay the damage.

He is doing this to get back into cycling, but since he lied under oath in court he needs to serve jail time. He also needs to repay every single person and company he sued, and if doing so will bankrupt him in the process, that's just his tough luck for being a cheating, lying bully.

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karlowen [65 posts] 3 years ago
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mattsccm wrote:

Not disagreeing just wondering. Prosecute for things you don't like or actual laws being broken? Bullying isn't a crime. Or shall we have a go at any number of big names.
Know what pisses me off?
how any of us who have not been personally affected by this, ie lost some prize money, have any right to a say. Nowt to do with us really, just opinion. However wiggins for example might well have a valid opinion on that matter.

Too much emotion being shown all round.

You are completely incorrect. What is money in comparison to the millions of hoursof time and unmeasurable amounts of passion that millions of people around the world have put into their love of a sport. Sport is all about emotion and when money gets in the way it is destroyed. Lance being the case in point, the premier league further displaying this and the sucess of the Olympics being it's counterpoint.

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nostromo [55 posts] 3 years ago
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I think Oprah did as good a job as she could and I don't think anyone could have done any better at this stage because LA would not have got in a room with anyone else. Walsh, Kimmage and co would not have gotten to sit down with him and if they had it would probably have ended up too confrontational and testosterone-fuelled. So in that respect, I thought Oprah was well-prepared, strong without being aggressive and determined to press him on the truth. Good job Oprah - I'm eagerly awaiting the second round.

As for LA - he didn't sound contrite to me. The only things he showed true remorse for were the mistakes he made in coming back and the way in which he reacted to the USADA investigation - or to be precise, the mistakes that led to his downfall. He came across as the amoral, ruthless, bullying 'win-at-all-costs' cheat that he is. Part of that is the way in which Oprah lets his true character speak, but most of it is his arrogance and his inherent belief that he is 'great'. I also think he lacks understanding of what he has done wrong. It seems like he can't process the idea that what he was doing wasn't OK in the context of the sport at that time and the challenge of winning the Tour. His view is that yes, he cheated, but so did everyone else, so it isn't really cheating. The bit about claiming to be 'clean' all that time is forgotten.

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andyp [1436 posts] 3 years ago
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'Prosecute for things you don't like or actual laws being broken? Bullying isn't a crime. '

Perjury is. Doping in sport is, in France. Slander is, and I would imagine that death threats are. There's plenty to go at.

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graphite [63 posts] 3 years ago
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Very creepy interview, seemed devoid of empathy and remorse to me. The guys a sociopath.

The only thing that would get to him would be to never give him any further press coverage. And the TdF people should ask for those yellow jerseys from his games room back too - don't suppose he'd like that! Mind you, he'd probably just replace them with giant posters of himself!

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Pedals [36 posts] 3 years ago
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Just watching part one of the interview and oprah did an ok job she asking the right questions! And like nostromo said its doubtful he would have talked to anyone else! But The guys a tool and admitting it to her is just a PR scam to try to get the public to feel sorry for him! And to get himself back in the public eye. The guy was void of all emotion! Least its all out in the open now and people can move on!
Who's playing him in the lance movie ... Bet he'll be raking in the cash for the rights to that!!

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belgravedave [263 posts] 3 years ago
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Pedals wrote:

Just watching part one of the interview and oprah did an ok job she asking the right questions! And like nostromo said its doubtful he would have talked to anyone else! But The guys a tool and admitting it to her is just a PR scam to try to get the public to feel sorry for him! And to get himself back in the public eye. The guy was void of all emotion! Least its all out in the open now and people can move on!
Who's playing him in the lance movie ... Bet he'll be raking in the cash for the rights to that!!

Reckon it has to be Ryan Gosling.

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 3 years ago
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Pedals wrote:

Just watching part one of the interview and oprah did an ok job she asking the right questions! And like nostromo said its doubtful he would have talked to anyone else! But The guys a tool and admitting it to her is just a PR scam to try to get the public to feel sorry for him! And to get himself back in the public eye. The guy was void of all emotion! Least its all out in the open now and people can move on!
Who's playing him in the lance movie ... Bet he'll be raking in the cash for the rights to that!!

Still not convinced it'll be made, Hollywood need an optimistic ending, but that's not forthcoming.

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badback [302 posts] 3 years ago
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Well it was a good trailer for his next book.

I don't think we learnt any more than was already pieced together from information that has come into the public domain in the last six months.

I thought his excuses were lame and he might as well of said he was driven by greed rather than a love of the sport. He showed all the remorse of an investment banker after they had gambled away the banks assets.

I hope know that he gets a serious grilling so we learn who was and wasn't involved.

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Colin Peyresourde [1636 posts] 3 years ago
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mattsccm I just don't know how you can say that given he lied to all of us.

He has been instrumental in sullying the name of the sport I love.

It pisses me off that there are still apologists around like you who could never see the truth, and sided with him (and still side with him) which does affect those that tried to bring the truth to light. We're having our time now and so I say to you "go away if you don't like it". Because of people like you, you made it easier for him to destroy the careers of people who were more honest. People who didn't dope and who didn't see it as a natural side of the sport.

If you can't see the bigger picture then that's your problem. Wanting this to go away is part of the problem not solving it (the problem being drugs in sport if you haven't figured that out).

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rch30 [73 posts] 3 years ago
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Is he telling the truth now? I think not. I find it very difficult to believe that he cannot remember starting a law suit against Emma O'Reilly.

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dullard [140 posts] 3 years ago
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mattsccm - read up more before commenting. Fraud. Perjury was an option but the US statute limitations will protect him on that one unless they go at him for his 09 ride. Witness intimidation. Blackmail. Slander. Drug trafficking. Defrauding the US taxpayer. Luckily, the last one could be his main undoing and was, in a nice twist, initiated by Floyd Landis. If the US government join suit, the total sought against Armstrong, Bruyneel, Thom Weisel, Bill Stapleton and others at Tailwind sports could be around 100 million.

The man's a small-minded, sociopathic shyster, get used to it.

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arrieredupeleton [574 posts] 3 years ago
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Tomorrow, I'm going to wrap up warm, get my bike out and go for a ride. I'm going to get out into the country or maybe the coast and just enjoy peddling my bike for the sake of it. No computer, no Strava and no thoughts of trying to beat anyone else. Don't buy into the media hyperbole about cycling being in crisis - its fucking great  4

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 3 years ago
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arrieredupeleton wrote:

Tomorrow, I'm going to wrap up warm, get my bike out and go for a ride. I'm going to get out into the country or maybe the coast and just enjoy peddling my bike for the sake of it. No computer, no Strava and no thoughts of trying to beat anyone else. Don't buy into the media hyperbole about cycling being in crisis - its fucking great  4

+1, I'll do it if you will!

Was Oprah doing testosterone during the interview or something? It sounds like her balls keep dropping!

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daddyELVIS [654 posts] 3 years ago
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Just to give a little bit of balance -

I disagree with the article where is states:

"At other times, he was defiant, particularly when aggressively rejecting certain parts of the testimony laid against him"

Perhaps I watched a different interview, but I never once saw LA being aggressive. Yes, he rejected things, but never aggressively.

I also think the article could expand on the statement:

"he never told junior riders on the team to dope, mentioning Christian Vande Velde to dope."

Firstly, he made a valid point, asking if it was all down to him why Vande Velde doped after he'd left his team. Also, Oprah (who did a very good, well-researched job) pressed him further at this point and got LA to admit that he created at least a perception amongst the team that they had to dope (can't remember her exact wording, but it was when she asked, after his original answer, if we were dealing with "semantics").

Also, at the point he was talking about the donation and there being no cover-up, did I hear him indicate that the UCI is "shadey", or have I imagined that? Can't remember how he worded it exactly - I'll re-watch again later.

I get the feeling he will name names. Not to Oprah - that's about him (he stated that at the start), but when the law suits start.

I'm looking forward to tonight's part 2 - it looks more interesting than part 1 because it looks like it'll cover areas we don't already know / could guess about.

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